When going through a divorce with children, developing a workable (and legally enforceable) child custody arrangement is a critical part of the process. While much of the focus will be on the day-to-day or week-to-week schedule, it is important not to overlook the fact that both parents will typically want special rights when it comes to holidays and vacations.
Since summer is just around the corner, we’ll talk about summer holidays and vacations specifically. But, the principles and considerations discussed in this article would apply equally to fall and winter holidays, spring break, and even birthdays as well.
Parenting Time for Summer Holidays and Vacations
Typically, divorcing parents will establish a child custody arrangement (or “parenting time plan”) that divides parenting time daily or weekly. While every-other-weekend arrangements are still used in some cases, it is becoming increasingly common for both parents to have equal parenting time post-divorce.
But, while these types of routine schedules work the vast majority of the time, there are some circumstances in which they won’t be ideal. In particular, divorcing parents will often want to establish special rules for summer holidays and vacations.
For example, suppose you and your former spouse decide on a parenting time arrangement where your children spend three nights a week at one home and four nights a week at the other. But, over summer, you want to be able to take a week-long vacation with your children. Since this wouldn’t be allowed under your normal schedule, it is something that you will need to address specified in your post-divorce parenting time plan.
Of course, your spouse might want to take your children on vacation as well, and you might not know when you will be able to take off a week from work in advance. These are factors you will need to consider as you develop your parenting time plan—and they are factors that are easy enough to address with the help of an experienced divorce attorney.
Concerning holidays, there are a handful of different options. For example, you and your spouse could agree that one of you will get your children each Memorial Day (the unofficial start of summer), and the other will get your children on Independence Day. Or, you might agree to alternate holidays each year. Alternatively, you might agree that you will each spend half of each holiday with your children. Again, there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules or specific requirements (as long as you focus on your children’s best interests), and you and your spouse can work with your respective attorneys to develop a plan that works for both of you.
Additional Considerations Regarding Summer Holidays and Vacations
Beyond determining when each of you will spend time with your children over the summer, there are some important additional considerations to address when developing a comprehensive parenting time plan during the divorce process. Some examples of these additional considerations include:
- Discussing and Approving Travel Plans – Divorcing parents will often establish parameters for discussing and approving summer travel plans. But, when including these types of provisions in their child custody arrangements, parents will want to ensure that they do not allow unreasonable interference with their efforts to arrange and take vacations.
- Communication While Children are Traveling – When one parent has the couple’s children for a weeklong vacation, it may be reasonable to agree that the other parent will still talk to the children while traveling. Parents can establish as many or as few rules as they want in this regard.
- Emergencies During Travel – It is generally a good idea for divorcing parents to specifically address how they will handle any emergencies that may arise during their children’s travels. Child custody agreements will typically address emergencies under normal circumstances. It may or may not make sense to extend these same provisions to apply while one parent is traveling with the couple’s children.
What if Your Parenting Time Plan Isn’t Clear?
Let’s say you have already gone through your divorce, and as you begin making your summer plans, you realize that your parenting time plan doesn’t provide clear guidance regarding holidays and vacations. What should you do?
Most likely, you will want to discuss your situation with an attorney. While you should not simply give up on your hopes of spending certain holidays with your children or taking your children on vacation, you also need to be very careful not to violate the terms of your child custody arrangement. Doing so could potentially have significant adverse consequences. Your attorney will be able to review your parenting time plan and make sure your understanding is correct, and he or she will also be able to advise you regarding your next steps. Depending on the circumstances at hand, this may involve engaging with your spouse (and his or her attorney) to update your parenting time plan, or it may involve seeking a modification in court.
What if Your Former Spouse Won’t Comply with Your Summer Parenting Time Plan?
What if your former spouse won’t comply with your summer parenting time plan? What if your former is refusing to allow you to take your children on vacation? Or, what if your spouse is taking your children for more than his or her allotted time?
As we just mentioned, violating a child custody agreement can have serious consequences. However, if your former spouse is violating your agreement, you have clear rights under Illinois law, and an attorney can help you enforce your rights so that you can spend your allotted time with your children.
Speak with Gurnee, IL Divorce Attorney Deanna J. Bowen
Do you have questions about summer parenting time? If so, Gurnee and Lake County, IL, divorce attorney Deanna J. Bowen can explain your options and help you decide on the best path forward. To get started with a free and confidential consultation, call us at 847-623-4002 or request an appointment online today.