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Summer Vacations & Child Custody: What You Need to Know

With the summer months upon us, children and families across the country have all the more reason to get out and about, head out on vacation, and travel. While summer vacation is a time for parents to connect with their children and spend more time with them, it can also introduce some unique concerns if parents are unmarried, divorced, or otherwise subject to custody and visitation arrangements.

If you are a parent who shares custody and visitation rights of your children, knowing how to plan a summer vacation, understand your rights, and what you can and cannot do when it comes to legal court orders is important to protecting your interests and ensuring you are not subject to enforcement.

At Moskowitz Law Group, LLC, our divorce and family law attorneys have worked closely with parents to develop sound and effective parenting time schedules during divorce, child custody proceedings, and other family law matters involving children. Below, we share a few tips on what you need to know about summer vacations and child custody issues.

  • Know what your parenting plan entails – In many divorce and child custody cases, custody and visitation arrangements (parenting time) can be formally structured through the court. When they are, they’re enforceable court orders with which you must comply, or obtain permission from the other parent when you wish to deviate from those terms. Whether agreed upon by both parents or ordered by the court, parenting plans can vary in terms of summer schedules. Your agreed upon plan – or your options when you are still going through proceedings – may entail specific terms about vacations and holidays, including yearly switches between summer custodial parents (i.e. you may have summer vacation custody rights one year, while the other parent has it the next, and may also need to trade off with the other parent during winter holidays). This arrangement may be most common in cases where parents live further apart, as summer can provide more time for them to spend with a child they don’t see as often as the custodial parent. In others, summer parenting time may be a continuance of the status quo and current arrangements.
  • Communication is key – Communication is always important when it comes to custody rights. If you have plans for an extended visit or summer get-away you would like to take with your child, communicate that desire with the other parent to obtain their permission, which you can document for your records. If your parenting plan requires such a visit, you should still communicate with the other parent about your plans and prepare accordingly. Communication is also important when discussing pick-up and drop-off times.
  • Remember to be flexible – Summer can bring about many activities and events, which is why you should do your best to remain flexible about summer plans and vacations. Again, communication between parents can help reduce the risks of unforeseen issues, or ensure they are amicably resolved when they do arise. This may be true when children have their own plans that don’t exactly fit into the schedules in a parenting plan, but which can be accommodated through flexibility and mutual agreements between parents.
  • You have options when things don’t go as planned – Sometimes things don’t always go as planned, and parents may violate terms of a court order or overextend their rights, whether they do so willfully or as a result of zealousness and excitement for summer vacation. Should disputes or court order violations arise, and opportunity for resolution out-of-court not be an option, remember that you have rights to seek enforcement and legal action through the courts, depending on the facts at hand. In some situations, you may even wish to seek post-decree modifications of existing court orders to reflect new circumstances or obtain a new schedule for holiday and summer vacation custody. Experienced attorneys can help you evaluate your particular situation to determine if you have available options, or if you simply wish to pursue a modification moving forward.

Child custody is one of the most important aspects of family law, whether it arises during or after divorce, or as its own stand-alone issue. To ensure your rights and interests are protecting in these matters, working with proven family lawyers like those at Moskowitz Law Group, LLC is of the utmost importance. Contact us today to request a free consultation.