Planning a summer vacation can be fun, but it can also be stressful. As a divorced parent, making sure your vacation plans adhere to the terms of your divorce order or settlement agreement – while also keeping certain practical considerations in mind – can help ensure that you will be able to enjoy spending time with your children without creating issues between you and your former spouse.
If you are getting ready to plan (or are already in the process of planning) a summer vacation with your children, here are some important considerations to keep in mind:
1. Know When, Where and for How Long You Can Plan Your Vacation.
First and foremost, as a divorced parent, you will need to make sure you have a clear understanding of how your parenting plan applies to summer vacations. While some divorced parents adhere to the same schedule year-round, many parenting plans have special provisions for summer break, and parenting plans will often include special rules for vacations as well.
Taking children out of state is often an issue of special concern as well. If you are planning a vacation outside of New Jersey – whether to another state or another country – it will be important to make sure that your trip will not put you in violation of the terms of your divorce.
2. Let Your Former Spouse in on Your Travel Plans.
Once you are sure that your vacation plans are permissible under the terms of your divorce, you should let your former spouse in on the details. Let your former spouse know about your trip in advance and make sure he or she can reach you while you are gone. Your parenting plan may require you to provide advance notice, so make sure to fulfill that requirement accordingly.
3. Seek Approval for Trips that Exceed the Length of Your Standard Parenting Time.
You want to plan a ten-day trip, but your parenting plan only allows you to take your children on a seven-day vacation. Does this mean that you are only going for seven days? Not necessarily.
In appropriate circumstances, divorced parents can negotiate reasonable deviations from their standard parenting time arrangements. But, before you rely on your former spouse’s word, it is important to make sure that your negotiated deviation will not lead to trouble. You do not want to come back from your vacation to find that your former spouse has accused you of violating the terms of your divorce. Make sure you are clear on what your divorce order or settlement agreement says about modifications so that you do not accidentally give your former spouse reason to file a legal action for enforcement.
4. Plan Ahead to Comply with Travel Requirements and Advisories.
If you are going out of the country, you will generally need either (i) written consent from your former spouse, or (ii) a copy of the court order establishing you as your children’s sole custodian. Also, make sure you know whether any vaccinations are recommended or required, and make sure you consider any travel advisories that could impact your children’s safety.
5. Try to Avoid Having Your Vacation Lead to Confrontations.
Finally, to make sure your children enjoy their vacation as much as possible, and to facilitate planning additional vacations in the future, do your part to prevent your vacation from leading to confrontations with your former spouse. Consider letting your children call their mother or father from your vacation destination, and be willing to listen to any concerns your former spouse raises during the planning process.
Of course, these are just general recommendations. Everyone’s situation is unique, and this article should not be considered legal advice. If you would like to speak with a lawyer about making sure your vacation plans comply with the terms of your divorce, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential case evaluation.
Speak with a Divorce & Family Lawyer in Hackensack, NJ
With offices in Hackensack, the family law attorneys at MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family LawTM of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC provide legal advice and representation to divorced parents throughout New Jersey. To discuss your personal circumstances in confidence, call 201-880-9770 or request an appointment online today.