Summer break is approaching, and families are planning their vacations. Children are excited to be out of school soon, and everyone looks forward to the warm weather. Planning vacations can be more complicated than it would otherwise be for divorced parents with a custody agreement.
Parents must read their custody agreement before making any plans, and if they have questions about their rights and responsibilities per the agreement, ask their attorney so they are not at risk of being in contempt of court.
What to consider before planning a vacation
Here are some questions to ask before booking that flight for you and your child:
- Is there anything in the custody agreement that states that no parent can take the child out of the country, if relevant, without the other parent’s consent, and if so, have you gotten their consent? It is always best to have consent via writing to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Regardless of where you’re going, do the dates of your trip interrupt the schedule specified in the custody agreement? Is your child supposed to be with the other parent during some of that time or all that time? If so, have you talked to the other parent and agreed to a change in plans? Most importantly, do you have this agreement in writing and signed by both parties?
- Is there anything in the custody agreement that the judge ordered that addresses or places restrictions on summer vacations? If so, do your vacation plans violate that order? Remember that you cannot make exceptions to a court order without permission from the court. Ensure you get the green light from the court before booking your trip.
- Are there any activities included in the trip that the other parent would object to? Parents often overlook this, but it is crucial. Remember that if you have joint legal custody and engage in an activity requiring the other parent’s consent, you must get that consent before doing it.
Summer vacation is an exciting time for parents and their children and a time for bonding and spending more time together. The court knows this and always considers the child’s best interests, often including spending time with both parents.
If you have a custody agreement that states what you can and cannot do, specifically if ordered by the court, ensure you follow the order or ask for a hearing with the judge to request an exception. Violating court orders can get you in serious trouble and hurt you in your custody case.