With summer right around the corner, many parents are planning exciting vacations with their children. If you recently got divorced, this process becomes more stressful, as you may have to handle your children on your own while you travel, cover the vacation expenses, and more. One issue you should always consider in this situation is whether your vacation plans are in line with your child custody agreement.
Many people have to make adjustments to their plans or take extra planning steps if they share custody of their kids with the other parent. If you have concerns about how your custody order will affect your vacation, please contact a child custody attorney in Stamford to discuss your situation.
Whether you and your ex-spouse reached an agreement about sharing custody or the court had to make the custody determination, the arrangement and related parenting plan will be part of your divorce judgment. Always remember that this is a court order and there are consequences if you violate the order.
It may be tempting to plan vacations as you always have in the past without making adjustments based on your custody order. However, this decision can lead to penalties and complications with the court. If your ex-spouse does not agree to your vacation plans, they have the ability to report to the court that you failed to follow the custody order. The court may take steps to ensure compliance, including imposing financial penalties or even jail time for being in contempt of court. You never want to risk this situation, so always take precautions to ensure your vacation and custody order line up.
Shared custody is the most common custody arrangement in Connecticut, as the courts presume that ongoing relationships and time with both parents is generally in a child’s best interests. When you have shared custody, you will need to devise a parenting plan that dictates how you will share both parenting time and parental decision-making responsibilities.
Parenting plans should be extremely detailed and should certainly address issues like vacations. There are many ways to divide vacation time between parents, and this is something you should discuss and settle prior to a divorce. Some parents switch off summers, some schedule blocks of time for each parent during the summer, and some maintain a regular schedule during the summer. No matter what you decided, you should always look to your parenting plan first to see if your vacation plans comply.
Sometimes, vacation plans arise that are outside the parenting plan. Maybe your favorite cousin is getting married in Colorado and you want to take your kids, but your ex-spouse has the children that weekend according to your set schedule. Your mom announces she wants to take your family to Disney World for a week, but this overlaps with the vacation time allotted for the other parent. In these situations, discussion and cooperation can go a long way.
First, keeping an open line of communication with the other parent can be extremely helpful in this type of situation. If your spouse wanted to go camping with the kids, they may realize that your family wedding is more important, since they can go camping any weekend. Similarly, your Disney World vacation may have flexible dates, while the other parent’s vacation plans may not. Compromise and flexibility can help parents with shared custody figure out one-time vacation schedules without involving the courts.
Many parenting agreements address when one parent must ask the other parent for consent to certain vacations. If you have your child for two weeks in June and plan a vacation across the country, you may think that you can simply head out of town since it is during your parenting time. However, you should always check your parenting plan to see if it requires advance agreement from the other parent for an out-of-state trip.
If you are planning to travel internationally, you certainly want to discuss the necessary steps with an experienced attorney. First, both parents must appear for a child younger than 16 to get a passport. Your custody agreement or applicable laws will likely require the other parent’s consent to remove the child from the United States. A failure to follow proper protocol for an international vacation can result in serious consequences, possibly including international child abduction allegations. If the other parent refuses to consent to the vacation, you can petition the court for the permission you need.
Sometimes, parents may repeatedly disagree or have ongoing complications relating to vacation plans. In this situation, it may be worth it to modify your custody arrangement and parenting plan. If the parents can agree, they must submit the proposed modification to the court that issued the initial order. If the parents disagree about the modification, the parent seeking the changes must petition the court. There are strict standards for obtaining a modification, so you want the help of a post-divorce modification attorney from the start of the process.
Summer break and other vacations should not always be associated with constant conflict with your ex-spouse. You should have a parenting agreement that works for everyone involved and that addresses how you should handle vacations. Unfortunately, issues like vacations can often result in disputes between parents, though these disputes do not always have to make it to court. Always speak with a skilled lawyer who can review your custody order and help you find a resolution.
At the Law Offices of Piazza, Simmons & Grant, LLC, our custody attorneys in Stamford help resolve many types of custody and visitation-related matters, including post-divorce modifications. Our goal is for our clients to spend their time enjoying life with their children, and not in court fighting over custody. Call (203) 348-2465 or contact us online to discuss how our legal team can help you.