Summer vacation is coming; Get those plans in order

If you have joint custody of your child or children, and are like most other parents with joint custody, you have to coordinate your vacation plans with the other parent. Failure to coordinate can lead to embarrassing and/or expensive fiascos and can ruin your summer fun.

Most court orders for child custody will specify that each parent gets some “uninterrupted time” during the summer vacation from school. This can come in many permutations, such as “one uninterrupted week,” or “two separate uninterrupted weeks,” or even “four uninterrupted weeks,” depending upon the children’s ages. Although the court order won’t say it, the parents’ work schedules and the parents’ ability to get along bear equally on this issue.

One problem that arises, at times, is that one parent will schedule a vacation (say, a camping trip) for a period right when the other parent has plans (say, a family reunion). To avoid this, typical vacation orders will give one parent the first priority (“first dibs”) during odd-numbered years, with the roles reversing in even-numbered years. This means that, in the event of conflicting plans, the parent with first priority will get to carry out their plans, not the other parent.

However, most court orders will also require the parent with “dibs” to give the other parent timely notice of the specific dates they are planning to exercise their vacation by a deadline. This is in order to allow the other parent to make their own plans for the summer. Most orders will set a deadline for this notice.

So, if you are planning on taking them on vacation this summer, now is the time to start planning. Check your custody orders and make sure that you will be able to comply with any required deadlines for giving notice to the other parent. Then make sure that you give written notice to the other parent, in order to avoid vacation conflicts.

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