young boy holding crab

Problems & Solutions to Custody & Vacations

Your divorce is final, custody and visitation plans are worked out. Now you can breathe a bit easier now that things have finally been settled, but many parents soon find out that their visitation guidelines didn’t specifically address everything that might come up. Spring break is quickly approaching and shortly after are the summer months. If these breaks aren’t clearly defined travel plans can be affected by custody agreements. You certainly don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you have pre-paid for a trip only to find your former spouse has planned a trip for the same dates. The following are some of the most common problems that are not clearly outlined in custody agreements:

  1. The agreement doesn’t specify vacation times.
    • We can request a modification to the order to specify when each parent will get vacation time with the children. We also recommend adding a disclaimer that each parent must notify the other of the vacation location, contact information and that you can have contact with the children when they are away.
  2. If vacation time is specified, but your ex did not request the vacation time as directed by the visitation order.
    • If he or she didn’t abide by the order, you are not obligated to send the children with him or her.
  3. Your ex wants to cut your vacation time with the kids short.
    • You are not obligated to let your former partner cut the time short. The court is the only authority and control over the time.
  4. Vacations often overlap regular visitation times. For example, a vacation may give a parent three consecutive weekends in a row.
    • The general rule of thumb is that set vacation times override the regular visitation agreement. If you and your ex are amicable, you may be able to work out something else during that time.
  5. Your ex is being evasive and won’t agree to the vacation time you requested.
    • Put your request in writing, you keep a copy and send one certified mail so there is no confusion giving him or her several days to respond. This is also something our firm can handle for you to assure all necessary documents are on file and documented.
  6. The other parent refuses to share the itinerary.

    • If this is not already in your agreement, it is highly recommended that you request a modification. You are entitled to know when and where your children will be.

  7. Your ex doesn’t respect your vacation time with the children.
    • If there are no concerns with the children’s safety, allow the other parent and children to have a good family vacation. Try to limit calls and texts to avoid infringing on this time.

If you want to travel outside the United States with your child, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) “strongly recommends that unless the child is accompanied by both parents, the adult have a note from the child’s other parent” stating that he or she acknowledges and gives permission to the parent traveling out of the country with the children. The CBP does not have an official letter, but they recommend that the Parental Consent Letter include the following:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why
  • Contact information for the absent parent

The letter is not required to be notarized but is strongly recommended. Speaking from an attorney’s standpoint, I would absolutely have the letter notarized to avoid any confusion or issues.

All of these solutions are based upon the assumption that the divorce did not involve any form of abuse and it is safe to let your former spouse know the whereabouts of you and your children.

Our goal at Kevin Hickey Law Partners is to cover all areas of divorce, custody, and visitation before the divorce is finalized. We agree that each parent is entitled to a chunk of uninterrupted vacation time with the children. However, if you find yourself in any of these situations mentioned, it is best to seek legal counsel. We will help you work to develop a new parenting plan that details these types of issues to avoid any future problems.