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Summer Vacations with the Children after a Divorce
Summer is almost upon us, which means two things: school is out and summer vacations are in. And with summer, say goodbye to your daily routine and hello to possible chaos. This sentiment especially rings true if you have recently gone through a divorce and are adapting to new custody and visitation schedules.
Here are some helpful hints to ensure that you and your ex do not ruin these vacations for your children:
Determine a Vacation Experience
Before planning a vacation, you need to determine what you want to get out of the experience. Are you planning on visiting family? Are you planning on going to a tourist destination and do a lot of tourist activities? Are you looking for a relaxing place like the beach resort?
Once you determine what experience you are looking for, it’s easier to choose an appropriate destination, set a budget and plan your itinerary. If your children are old enough, letting them participate will help insure everyone has a good time. You’ll also want to determine what type of hotel or resort accommodations you require. Will you and your children all stay in one hotel room or will you reserve a two-bedroom suite or connecting rooms? Two separate bedrooms gives everyone room to spread out. In one hotel room with double beds, the tight space and lack of privacy will add stress to any vacation. Remember that vacations are expensive, so save money ahead of time.
Plan a Vacation Schedule with your Ex
Meet with your ex and discuss a vacation schedule. This will allow each parent to voice opinions on dates and destinations with immediate feedback. Stick to the plan after a decision has been made.
Use Open Communication
If you have to defer from the agreed upon vacation schedule, by all means notify the other parent as soon as possible. It is always a good idea to notify the other parent of your vacation plans or if those plans change. If for some reason or another you have decided not to tell the other parent of your plans (where, how long, how to be reached, etc.), be prepared for the other parent to possibly bring legal action against you. The courts will want a detailed explanation as to why you will not provide the information, and a judge will typically order a parent to divulge vacation plans for safety reasons, unless there is a compelling reason not to (findlaw.com).
Sometimes the best way to resolve summer vacation disputes is to mediate your differences in front of a neutral decision-maker. This is especially true if you know you and your ex have a volatile relationship. If you do, choose a different path and bring in a mediator to help come to an agreement. Either ex-spouse can hire a private mediator, or each party can hire a child-custody lawyer and resolve their disputes without going to court. If it helps to have a third party in place, than it's worth the added expense for less headache in the long run.
Set a Court Date
The last and final option would be to get the courts involved. Often in separation and divorce agreements, the following are set forth:
- The amount of vacation time each parent is allocated
- The amount of notice each parent must give the other one
In addition, many agreements limit the travel locations, and the scope of travel may be more limited when the children are younger.
If you desire to have a court ruling regarding your child's vacation schedule, then plan accordingly. Create the agreement as far in advance as possible so the court can approve the plan and make it legally binding. Often, this agreement, if approved by a court, can replace a regular child-custody agreement during summer time (findlaw.com).
If no summer vacation agreement is in place, child-custody agreements generally allow a parent to take a child wherever she or he chooses, as long as the child is not in danger and there are not any other restrictions. If this worries you, take the extra precautionary steps and make it legal. After all, the last thing you want to do is find yourself with an unwanted court date instead of going on a trip because you and your ex could not come to an agreement.
If you have just filed for divorce and do not yet have a custody and visitation agreement in place be aware that the Standard Restraining Orders contained on the Summons prohibit you from leaving the state of California with your children without your spouse’s consent or a Court order.
Keep these tips in mind this summer when planning your child's or children’s summer vacation and you're sure to have a successful summer break with less headache.
If you still have questions or would like to discuss your options with a Family Law attorney, please contact The Law Office of Matthew J. Rudy for a free 1-Hour Consultation.