adopting foster children - how my lawyer did it

Child Custody: 5 Tips for Dealing with Summer Vacations

Summer is a time to relax and have fun, not a time to get into a fight with your ex over child custody. Little details regarding summer vacation need to be worked out with your ex before the vacation plans are set in stone. Here are five tips to help make your summer vacation plans go smoothly and without a child custody battle:

1. Set and Stick to a Vacation Schedule.

With two to three months of your kids being out of school for summer, there is an abundance of time to plan a cross-country trip in the family RV or a week-long Disneyland vacation. However, if you don't take the time to sit down with your ex and discuss your upcoming summer plans, you may find that you will be spending the summer in court instead of with your family. Therefore, you should draft a vacation schedule and have your ex sign it. This can be done with a notary or with the help of a child custody lawyer. You can even submit it to a judge in family court to ensure that the paperwork is on file.

2. Don't Violate Your Existing Child Custody Agreement.

Some visitation and custody agreements will have certain geographical limits. An example of this would be that one spouse can't leave the country with the kids without getting permission from the other spouse. Therefore, if you're planning a trip abroad, the agreement either needs to be modified or you need to get the necessary permission. It just depends on the wording of your current agreement.

3. Provide Adequate Notice of the Trip.

It is great to take the time to plan a vacation, but you should never wait until the very last minute to inform your ex of the trip. Make sure that your ex has at least a month or two's notice about your travel plans. Otherwise, it could spark a huge argument and you won't be going on the vacation that you likely already paid for.

4. Exchange the Kids in a Public Place.

Exchanging the kids can be stressful, but if you choose to do so in a well-monitored public location, things can go a lot smoother. Your children will feel safe, which is important, and they won't have to worry about Mom and Dad getting into an argument that could ruin the plans. If you and your ex aren't comfortable with one another, you may be able to exchange at day care, school, or a similar place.

5. Allow Communication between Your Kids and the Other Parent.

Your summer vacation may be all about you, your current significant other, and the kids, but it is also important that you allow your kids to communicate with their other parent throughout the trip. This can either be done on the telephone or via a computer or smartphone app.

These five tips should help ensure that your summer vacation is flawless, at least from the legal perspective of the other parent. If you need legal assistance to make your vacation work, consult with a child custody lawyer, such as one from Andrew H. P. Norton, who can help you draft a vacation schedule or make modifications to the current custody and visitation order.