Navigating Summer Vacations with a Co-Parent

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School is out and summer is here. Millions of people are now vaccinated for COVID-19 and interstate travel is no longer discouraged. It makes sense that parents want to take the kids for a long-distance trip or out-of-state vacation. But how do newly divorced parents negotiate summer custody? What if one parent is comfortable with interstate or even international travel, and the other parent wants the kids to stay close to home? And wouldn’t a three week vacation interfere with the other parent’s joint custody schedule?

 Summer Custody Disputes

Usually parents will dictate what summer custody will look like in a parenting plan or marital settlement agreement. For example, co-parents might alternate who has custody of the kids for Fourth of July or Labor Day. Maybe dad gets odd years and mom gets even years. If both parents have joint legal and physical custody, they may agree to forgo the usual 2-3-2 or 4-3 schedule for a few weeks out of the summer so that each parent can take the children on an extended vacation.

However, if you or your ex plan to take your shared children out of state, and especially if you are planning international travel, you must notify the other parent well in advance, preferably before you book airfare or other travel arrangements. The other parent must consent to the travel and has a right to know about the itinerary including your plans and where you will be staying. The other parent also has the right to decline allowing the children to attend. If you and your co-parent are deadlocked about summer custody or summer plans, you may benefit from arranging mediation facilitated by attorneys for both sides, but refer to your custody order or parenting plan first. Courts do not like to get involved in summer vacation disputes, but if your spouse is threatening to take the kids out of state or out of the country, it is crucial you take action.

Summer Fun and COVID-19

While children over 12 are now eligible for vaccines, young children cannot be inoculated yet, and there is no indication from officials as to when smaller children and toddlers can receive the shot. Although many children do not seem to experience symptoms if infected with the virus, other children have developed serious side effects and secondary diseases, including Kawasaki Disease. Even if your child does not seem sick, it is possible they are positive and could unknowingly spread the disease to other family members, extended family, or complete strangers.

So, how can you travel safely this summer? Get tested for COVID-19 several days before leaving for your trip. If anyone in your family is positive, stay home and have a staycation. Obtain travel insurance and be sure to book a refundable rate on a hotel where you will not be penalized for a last minute cancellation. When you return back from your trip, get tested again to ensure you are not positive, and quarantine for a few days. Bring emergency supplies, important travel documents and plenty of hand sanitizer. Explain to your children that health and safety comes first. 

Contact Our Morristown Family Law Attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC

Summertime is supposed to be stress-free, and your kids deserve to relax and enjoy it. However, it is imperative you and your co-parent adhere to provisions of your parenting plan and notify the other parent of vacation plans. If your ex is not honoring your custody order or is threatening to take your children, contact our attorneys at Eveland and Foster, LLC. With decades of combined experience handling all types of family law cases and a convenient location in Morristown, we would be glad to assist you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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