Tips for Successful Summer / Vacation Parenting Time
By: Lauren K. Beaver
Although summertime may seem very far away during the daunting dark winter days, it is imperative to start thinking about plans for your children’s summer break. September through June is typically very busy filled with school, homework, activities and sports, but by the spring, most co-parents have their children’s schedule down to a science. When summer break hits however, many parents are left scrambling to find reasonably priced and convenient child-care and/or are fighting about who gets what week on vacation resulting in last-minute planning and exorbitant travel fees.
Below are some tips for to ease the stress of summer post-divorce:
1. Plan Early
It is helpful to research and discuss summer childcare options well in advance of summer. This could be help from friends, neighbors, relatives, summer camp options or a combination of all of the above. All too often parents end up unexpectedly missing days of work in the summer because they are unable to secure a viable option for childcare due to failing to plan ahead.
If you are currently going through a divorce and do not yet have a Marital Settlement Agreement, be sure to include any summer parenting time modifications you might foresee (such as a change in your work schedule) and a roadmap for planning summer vacation. For example, place a date in your agreement by which each party must select their week for summer vacation. April 1st is usually a good drop-dead date to select summer vacation weeks that allows everyone plenty of time to make plans. You should then agree to alternate who selects their week first, assigning one parent to select their vacation week first in even years and one parent to select their vacation week first in odd years. This alleviates any fighting over who gets what week as summer approaches. If you are already divorced and this is not part of your agreement, you and your ex-spouse can certainly agree to this type of arrangement as well.
2. Be Transparent
Co-parents often share joint legal custody post-divorce. It is important to be transparent about your summer vacation intentions, especially if traveling out of state or internationally. Provide your ex-spouse with a detailed itinerary such as flight numbers, hotel name and any other relevant information he or she may need to feel comfortable about the children’s whereabouts during vacation. It is also good to include who else will be accompanying the children on vacation, including a new partner.
3. Check Travel Requirements for Minor Children
If you plan on traveling internationally with minor children post-divorce, you will need a passport for all of your children, which can take weeks to secure. You will also likely need your co-parent’s cooperation in terms of securing these travel documents. It is imperative to plan this early as well and not expect your ex to jump through hoops at the 11th hour trying to secure these documents for your children. Certain airlines also have additional travel requirements, including requiring a notarized letter from the child’s other legal parent, if you are traveling alone with the child without the other parent. It is good practice to contact your specific airline provider in advance of each flight to ensure you have complied with all travel requirements and are not stopped or detained at the airport.