This week marks the official start of summer. While children are looking forward to their school breaks, and parents are anticipating some rest and relaxation – those who co-parent may be anxious about handling summer vacation season. But this stress can be avoided with planning and communication.
Planning Your Summer Vacation: The first step to planning summer vacations as co-parents is to discuss and develop a summer schedule. The parents should review their Parenting Plan in advance of travel, to make sure they are complying with the parenting time and notice provisions. Many Custody Orders require parents to exchange travel information well in advance of the trip. Generally, that information includes the travel itinerary, flight details, as well as the address and contact information of the location(s) where the child(ren) will be staying. Some Custody Orders also include deadlines of when you need to notify the other parent; missing that deadline could mean that you lose priority over the summer vacation season.
Communication About Travel Schedule: For co-parents who are planning to take their child(ren) on a summer vacation, discussing those plans with the other parent and providing ample notification is essential. It is also a good idea to confirm your summer travel plans in writing; you can send a letter, email, or even a text message to the other parent. Alternatively, if you do not follow the guidelines set forth in the Parenting Plan (ex: following the vacation and notification schedule), you could face serious legal actions, which could also lead to more restrictive travel provisions.
Other Considerations When Vacationing With Children: While travelling, you likely still need to comply with the communication provisions of your Parenting Plan. Make sure your child has a way to communicate with the other parent while on vacation. If your Parenting Plan involves specific provisions on communication that are impractical due to the travel (such as a window for the parent to call between 6pm and 8pm, that would result in the call being in the middle of the night due to a time change), make comparable alternative arrangements that factor in both your schedule on vacation and the other parent’s schedule.
If you plan on vacationing with your children outside of the country, you will need passports for the children. It is important to note that it can take up to eight weeks to obtain a passport, and that passports for minor children are only valid for five years. (For more information about passport applications, visit www.travel.state.gov). Generally, both parents must also give written, notarized permission for their children to leave the country.
While planning and communication are two vital aspects of summer vacation scheduling among co-parents, you should also be keeping your children’s best interests in mind. Vacations should be cooperative, not a competition. Remember: children want to be happy and have fun. They do not want to be subjected to any tensions that may exist between their parents. For help with Parenting Plans, Custody Orders, or summer vacation scheduling, call Porchlight at (678) 435-9069 or contact us here.