The Child Custody Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC understand that time-sharing over the summer vacation can present a variety of challenges for parents, particularly when this period involves a deviation from the typical time-sharing schedule that the parents and child are accustomed to during non-summer months. For many parents, issues regarding summer time-sharing have already been clearly outlined within their parenting plan. For other parents, there may either be no parenting plan in place, or an existing plan is unclear or ambiguous. Regardless, we all know that circumstances can changes, and often times parents may realize that a previously agreed upon arrangement may be outdated, or otherwise unsuitable to meet the current needs of the parent or the child. When it comes to summer vacation separated or divorced parents should at a minimum consider the following:
Review the provisions of your Parenting Plan that address summer time-sharing. Often parents forget or make mistakes as to what their parenting plan provides for over summer vacation. Your plan may be years old and you may just forget what it says. Reviewing it well before summer will help ensure no misunderstandings arise with the other parent.
Confirm details prior to planning vacations. Planning for a vacation, in and of itself, can be an arduous task. No parent wants to find themselves in the position of having already planned for a trip, only to find that it conflicts with a parenting plan, or overlaps with a previously scheduled event or activity which requires your child’s attendance. Be sure to check with your parenting plan and confirm with the other parent that you have timesharing during the period you plan to vacation before confirming travel arrangements and accommodations, particularly with non-refundable purchases.
Notify other parent of extended vacations by deadline (if parenting plan requires). When your parenting plan requires notification of deviations from the normal summer time-sharing by a specified deadline, be sure to adhere to the deadline. You never know if the other parent may have relied on the notification deadline in making other plans for your child. Further, the other parent may be unwilling to be flexible for whatever reason in consenting to requests once the deadline has passed.
Provide other parent with trip itinerary for out-of-state travel. In addition to confirming travel details prior to planning for a vacation, it is equally important to provide the other parent with the trip itinerary once the trip is planned. Corresponding with the other parent via email, can serve as an effective means of communication, and also provides each parent with documentation of the details of the trip.
Contact your attorney early, if you have any questions or concerns. When in doubt, contact your attorney. The attorney that assisted in establishing your current parenting plan, or an experienced family law attorney can explain the effect of an existing order, discuss your legal options in cases where no plan is in place, and provide general clarification regarding your legal rights as they pertain to entitlement and access to your child. Remember, a problem with summer time-sharing that may be resolvable early with court intervention likely will not be treated as an emergency by the court and will thus not be addressed in time.
Perhaps the most significant guiding principles that can be taken from this discussion, is the importance of planning ahead. While engaging a qualified attorney to assist in developing an appropriate parenting plan (i.e. a plan that is mutually beneficial, clearly defined, and suitable to the interests of each child) is the more desirable approach, the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC have decades of experience working through problems with Parenting Plans and can help you with all your custody issues.