Navigating Summer Vacations and Shared Custody of Your Child
Children impatiently wait for summer vacation most the year, as they dream about being free from the strictures of school and schedules. For parents, however, this time of year can bring a lot of stress, especially if they share custody of a child. Planning summer getaways and figuring out child care when school is out of session can create tension with the parenting schedule, sparking disputes that can quickly escalate. Before disagreements about parenting time and activities get out of hand, and potentially require the intervention of a court to resolve, there are steps parents can take to minimize the possibility of contentious issues. When parents argue over child-related issues, the child is usually the one most affected, which is rarely a parent’s desire or intent. An overview of several methods that could reduce the chance of a dispute with the other parent over summer vacation plans will be discussed below.
Check the Parenting Plan
Parenting plans often include provisions regarding any changes to the parenting time schedule during school vacations, but parents sometimes forget to refer to this document and inadvertently violate the terms when planning family events. Thus, this document should be the first place parents look to when planning summer events. If the parenting plan is silent on school vacations, or the provisions no longer work for the parent and child, it may be time to attempt to work privately with the other parent on a reasonable plan for the summer season. Any negotiations or agreements between the parents should be in writing in case court involvement is needed in the future to formally change or enforce parenting time.
One of the easiest and best strategies a parent can use to reduce conflict is to plan as early as possible, and keep the other parent informed about the plans and any potential disruptions to the parenting time schedule. If the other parent is kept in the dark about when and where the child will be, the likelihood of legal action is much higher. Any deviations from the established parenting schedule should also be written in the event a petition must be filed to enforce custody rights and to defend against allegations of violations of the parenting plan by the other parent.
To further encourage cooperation by the other parent, send reminders in the days and weeks leading up to the trip. This effort will ward off accusations by the other parent that he/she was not kept informed, and hopefully prevent the parent from making conflicting plans with the child over the same period of time.
Modify the Parenting Plan if Necessary
If it appears that the other parent is unwilling to consider accommodating summer plans or actively seeks to interfere with custody rights, the only option left may be to ask a court to modify the parenting plan. Court-ordered modifications to a parenting plan will be granted if there is a “substantial, material and unanticipated change in circumstances,” and the modification is in the best interests of the child. In addition, depending on the circumstances, a parent can also ask for additional parenting time and/or the payment of costs related to the other parent’s interfering actions.
Contact a Family Law Attorney
Child custody disputes can quickly turn into nasty affairs that call for legal action. The Tampa Bay law firm All Family Law Group, P.A. focuses on all areas of family law, including child custody, and will fight to protect your rights as a parent. Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
by Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+