5 Quick Child Custody Travel & Vacation Tips
Vacations are a welcome break from your normal routine and a great way for the kids to see the world, but vacations are not a break from your Child Custody and Visitation order as much as we’d like them to be. So, if you or Other Side don’t like the Custody and Visitation schedule laid out in your Order (and few if any of them are perfect), you might feel a strong and visceral urge to treat “Vacations” differently. Unless you’re doing everything you can to be as effective as possible when planning and enjoying your vacation with your kids, dealing with the Other Side might make a vacation you’ve worked so hard for and invested so much in more trouble than it’s worth…
1. Travel on your time. Don’t adjust the schedule. Only getting weekends? Chattanooga is fantastic. Go see the 2019 NL East Champion Atlanta Braves! The Crimson Tide play like 3 decent teams a year so tickets are readily available for the other 9 games. Resist the urge to contact the Other Side and “relitigate” the schedule for a big beach trip if your schedule doesn’t permit. This can spiral into a back and forth that could overshadow the whole trip and certainly ruin your anticipation of the trip, which is a big part of the fun. Plus, there’s no free lunch, and if you’re not willing to give away as much if not more of your scheduled time later on, don’t ask or expect the Other Side to give away any of theirs now.
2. Keep the communication schedule / routine. Do you have specific times to communicate? If you don’t, you probably should. If you do, great! Don’t change them! If you find yourself asking, “why should the Other Side take time away from our vacation?” I completely understand. Facilitating communication with the Other Side feels like enough of a chore under normal circumstances and much moreso on vacation. Your feelings are completely valid. Accept them, move on and stick to the routine and schedule.
*Bonus Points: by sticking to a communication routine or schedule, it may help avoid the Other Side blowing you up with an all day back and forth. A block of 20 minutes each afternoon or evening is 100x better than constant monitoring.
3. Ignore the “state line” issue when considering your vacations (unless it’s expressly part of the order). It’s 2019 and if it’s not the Other Side’s time with the child then Panama City is no different than Gulf Shores or 10 minutes down Highway 431. Don’t let the Other Side give you a hard time about “crossing state lines” with your child. And vice versa. The only reason state lines could be an issue would be if the Other Side is a legitimate threat to simply not return at all from the vacation. If this is a real possibility, you’ve got bigger problems and you need to get with a Child Custody lawyer and address these issues immediately.
4. Consult a lawyer if things are good. If your custody and visitation schedule doesn’t inherently allow for at least one significant vacation a year…and you get along with the Other Side, then get a Child Custody lawyer to tweak the paperwork and file an agreed upon modification at an agreed upon, reduced and flat fee cost. It’s like insurance. Lock it in while things are good because life happens and you and the Other Side might not always be amicable…
5. Consult a lawyer if things are that bad. If and when all else fails, and if that week-long or more trip to Disney World® is that important to you, maybe the schedule really is unreasonable. And maybe communication between you and the Other Side is toxic. In that case, don’t deal with all alone. The wear and tear on your psyche takes energy and attention away from your kids, your work and your quality of life. Consult a Child Custody lawyer, if only to air out some of these concerns and get information specific to your case and unique circumstances.
This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you and or your unique situation. If you would like to speak more about how you, as a Committed Parent or Caring Relative, can be more effective in your Child Custody case, please visit www.ThinkFoxtrot.com/public_calendars/ to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices. ~SW, Foxtrot