Going to Disney World? Maybe you have plans to go abroad this summer? When you have children, and are in the middle of a contested divorce, one of the most stressful times of the year is the summertime.
The summer is ripe for opportunity for added stress, fighting, and court filings because parents can't agree on parenting time schedules.
In order to minimize the summer drama, it's important to try to agree, in writing, with your soon-to-be-ex on a parenting schedule that covers all the holidays you celebrate during the year. This includes school breaks and any vacation plans you wish to take with the children.
It's not uncommon in volatile relationships to argue about who goes on vacation when. The summer season really isn't that long, and lasts about two months. That's not much time to coordinate multiple vacations. The children can only be with one parent at a time, so if there is no compromise, the parents end up filing motions with the court to decide.
Even when there is a parenting schedule in writing, problems still arise. For example, if one parent has the children's passports and refuses to give them to the other parent to travel, that's a problem. Or, if the children don't have passports and need them to go on vacation, both parents' signatures are required, and they may both have to go to the passport agency to obtain them. What if one parent refuses? That's a problem.
I always counsel clients to think about summer plans far in advance of the proposed time. Try to find out months ahead if there is going to be a problem with getting consent from the other parent to go on vacation. If there is, you have ample time to file the appropriate motions and get it resolved with the court. Get any agreement on vacation in writing, with signatures.
If there is a problem as the time is getting closer to your vacation, don't wait until the last minute to file an emergency application with the court. Judges hate dealing with them, and it adds to the stress level for everyone involved. If you have an attorney, you will be paying a handsome price to file this emergency motion, often called an order to show cause.
Think about your children if there is drama regarding your plans. Remember, money can always be repaid for unused tickets or hotel rooms. Your children want to be with you, no matter where that is, so make the best of it. That time is precious, and you can't get it back; so try to make alternate plans if you can, and handle the rest of it later in court.
Another thing to keep in mind when deciding whether or not give your consent for your spouse to go on vacation with the children is to put the shoe on the other foot. If you give your spouse a hard time, expect the same in return when you want to go somewhere with the children—or just want an extra night or some other concession with the parenting schedule. Be reasonable when you can, and hopefully you will get the same in return.
Written by Jason Levoy
Jason Levoy, aka The Divorce Resource Guy, is a divorce attorney and founder of Divorce U, a premier program designed to coach those who can’t afford an attorney on how to represent themselves with confidence and integrity. Learn more about Jason and Divorce U at JasonLevoy.com.