How To Stop Arguing and Start Enjoying Your Vacation Time.
Spending quality time with your children during the summer months should be stress free. Get outside and enjoy some fishing, camping, biking or maybe a road trip to another part of the country. Whatever you do, use it to get break away from your usual routine. One thing you don’t want to get in the way is an argument with your ex about who’s vacation gets priority. But this is all too common in family law where poorly drafted parenting plans cause fights.
One cause of these fights is when one parent is supposed to have priority this year to pick dates for their summer vacation, but they forgot to do it by the deadline, which was back in May. Now it’s June and Dad wants to schedule a week-long trip to Crater Lake next week. Is that allowed by the parenting plan?
Tip # 1. Don’t let a blown deadline ruin your vacation.
If the parenting plan requires parents to pick their vacation dates by a certain date (often in May), assume frequently that won’t happen. The summer vacation planning should still be allowed. In the event of a missed deadline, have a provision that allows either parent to schedule a vacation so long as they provide 10 days advance notice and the proposed dates do not already conflict with the other parents holiday time or otherwise already announced vacation dates.
Tip # 2. Allow long blocks of time with each parent.
For a lot of parents its really hard to go two weeks without seeing your children, but if each parent gets a long block like that the reward is greater than the time you think you’re going to miss so much. If your plan allows for some long vacation blocks like this make sure to plan some vacation time for yourself while your children are with the other parent. Two weeks seems like a long time during the school year, but in the summer it flies by in no time.
Tip # 3. Alternate vacation priority and holidays.
The Fourth of July and Labor Day are the two big summer holidays. If they are alternated each year, make sure that each parent gets one of these every year so that no one feels left out. Likewise, every year one parent should get first priority to pick their summer vacation dates. The dates should be selected before summer begins and the parent plan should specific whether the holiday time or summer vacation dates take priority.
Tip # 4. Don’t forget birthdays!
If you have a child with a summer birthday that is going to be a big event. Make sure that this birthday is mentioned as a holiday that is alternated each year or somehow divided so that each parent gets a chance to celebrate it. Also, a parenting plan might want to prevent summer vacation time from being used during or around a child’s birthday unless that is alternated yearly also.
Tip # 5. Details for out of state travel with the children.
For some people traveling out of state with the children is not a big deal, for others, it is important to know all the details of where the vacation will take them and exactly when they’ll be where. If these details are important to you there should be a provision that requires sharing itinerary information with the other parent.
Despite these best practices, you maybe be in a situation where you can’t agree on who has priority for certain dates under the judgment and you both have plans. This situation is not one the courts are usually able to quickly resolve. Although unreasonable denial of parenting time have bring about a hearing in a few weeks, most disputes about parenting plans concern ambiguities in the language itself and circumstances that were not in view when the judgment was drafted. These issues take months to fix in a modification case. In this situation, the best advice is to take the long view and forgo a vacation now in exchange for priority next year. Your future self will be grateful you did.