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Summer Vacation and Custody

Summer is a time of year when millions of Americans plan vacations together with their children. Whether it is to the beach, skiing, an amusement park, or to visit relatives, many Americans take advantage of the long summer break to take time with their families. This tradition is no less prevalent among families who are divorced or separated. The reality of parenting schedules and visitation orders can often add a layer of unwelcome complexity to planning what should be a fun time.

Parents with a custody order who want to plan a vacation with their children should first closely examine the exact terms of the order. Almost all custody orders provide special provisions for holiday time, including a separate schedule for summer vacation. Summer vacation time that is granted by a court order functions similarly to other holiday time. The summer vacation parenting time overrides the normal visitation time. For example, if each parent is granted a block of two weeks of time, then the other parent would usually not be able to take his or her weekend with the children in the middle of the block, even if he or she usually gets the child on weekends.

Parents should also be sensitive to notice provisions. Many order will grant extra, uninterrupted time for the non-custodial parent during the summer but may require written notice be provided to the other parent of the dates that this time will be exercised. This is a logical requirement, as it helps to prevent a situation in which both parents have made conflicting vacation plans for the child.

Finally, vacation is not the same as relocation, in terms of when a parent must seek permission from the court. This means that parents are typically perfectly free to take the child out of state on vacation. This is true even when parents share joint custody.  Although joint custody typically means that parents are making decisions together, during vacation time parents are free to take their vacation as they see fit.  Parents should carefully review their orders to make sure they are not required to obtain permission from the other parent before leaving the state.  It should also be noted that taking a child out of the country is handled differently, as absent special circumstances, both parents must consent to a child being issued a passport.

If you have questions about your child and upcoming summer, contact us today to talk about your case. We have extensive experience helping parents understand their rights and responsibilities. Call us today at (253) 272-9459 to discuss your case and your options.

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