The difficulty with custody arrangements comes in planning for potentially 18 years worth of important events that may affect both parents. This is especially true when it comes to vacations. While it may seem unnecessary for parents with an amicable relationship to include currently unplanned vacations in a custody agreement, a detailed custody agreement can eliminate future unforeseen conflicts.
Planning for Vacation Times
Regardless of the current age of the children, vacations typically work around the school schedule. For this reason, there are limited times of the year when either parent can plan vacations in the first place. Rather than including specific dates for future vacation times, a better approach is to set aside blocks of uninterrupted time for both parents to take vacations each year if they so choose.
For example, most children have a week off from school for both spring break and fall break. One parent could have children for the entire spring break and the other for fall break, alternating each year. This plan allows either parent to schedule a vacation for their respective week. For the summer break, one parent could have the first two weeks in June and the other, the first two weeks in July. In this way, time is set aside for parents to plan vacations that aren’t subject to agreement by the other parent regardless if a vacation is actually taken.
How to Plan for Vacations During the Holidays
Many parents have family out of town with traditions of visiting during the holidays. Your custody agreement should account for both the staying-in-town parent and the traveling parent should a disagreement arise about taking a vacation during the holidays. One approach is to alternate holidays, with one parent having children during Thanksgiving and the other during the Christmas holidays and then switching the following year. This way, plane tickets, and travel arrangements can be made months in advance with confidence.
Another approach is to have the traveling parent pick up the children at a specific time from the staying-in-town parent on the day of the holiday so that children can spend major holidays with both parents. This may be the preferred approach for parents of very young children who want to build memories of and traditions for each holiday.
How to Plan for Three-Day Weekends
Many parents like to take their children on camping trips and short out-of-town trips on three-day weekends, such as Memorial Day and Labor Day. Again, the best approach is to check the calendar for the year and divvy up these three-day weekends equally through the custody agreement so that travel arrangements are not subject to permission from the other parent.
What Happens if There Is No Plan?
Judges have been presiding over divorces for many years and include customary arrangements for holidays and times off from school in the final custody agreement. If you enter a divorce proceeding with no agreement, your final divorce decree will be subject to a judge’s ruling. It is far better to make the arrangements yourselves than to leave it up to a judge. If you create your own custody agreement and don’t include specifics for vacations, neither parent may be able to take a vacation beyond the specified visitation dates if the other parent does not agree.
When the Custody Agreement Needs to Be Followed
While designating specific vacation dates ahead of time may seem very restrictive, this is primarily so that there is a guide in place in the event of a disagreement. This is key to understand: The specifics of the custody agreement are in place as a fallback for when no agreement can be reached. From year to year, parents can make agreements between themselves that override the official custody agreement about vacation dates as long as both parties agree.
Good communication and the action of both parents putting the happiness and needs of their children first are much more beneficial to everyone involved rather than having a strict, pre-defined agreement. It is important to have one anyway because, although your relationship may seem amicable now, it is not wise to depend solely on cordiality for the future. A detailed, well-thought-out custody agreement gives you peace of mind in the event of friction or a strained relationship.
Bergman Family Law Can Help
Rather than finding out later that you left out important considerations in your custody agreement, you should seek the advice of a qualified, experienced attorney. For help in planning for vacations in your custody agreement or any questions related to divorce, child support, or a prenup in the greater Miami, Broward County area, contact Bergman Family Law today to schedule your free consultation.