Child custody is challenging for every parent, and summertime makes it even more difficult. Understandably, parents want to spend time with their kids and take advantage of the season by going on vacation.
Parents who share physical custody of their children and have a custody agreement must consider several elements before they begin planning. It is best to think ahead instead of having to cancel those flights to St. Barts or your visit to your summer house in the Hamptons at the last minute.
Court orders are binding, meaning that an agreement signed by a judge is the law for the family bound by the order. Violating a custody agreement could result in accusations of contempt of court or, even worse, child abduction. For these reasons, it is wise to consider the following questions before planning your vacation:
- What does the custody agreement say about summer vacation? Does either parent have permission to take their child to the location they want to go on those dates?
- If the custody agreement is flexible, have you communicated with the other parent or their attorney and received their agreement on summer vacation plans? Make sure that any agreement you make with the other party is signed by you, them, and your attorneys.
- If you share joint legal custody, have you considered whether any of the activities planned for the trip could require the other parent’s permission, and if so, have you talked with them about it?
Summer is an exciting season for everyone. From the sunshine to spending time together as a family and looking forward to the changing colors in the fall, planning activities with your children is a beautiful time.
It is critical to remember that custody agreements are essential, court orders are binding, and if either parent wants to change anything in the agreement or order, they must request a hearing before the judge before doing what they are asking permission to do.