Child Custody Vacation Planning
Child Custody Vacation Planning by John Zurzola, Partner at Weber Gallagher’s Family Law Group
The holidays have come and gone and, believe it or not, Spring Break and Summer Vacation are right around the corner. In families with separated or divorced parents that can’t get along, or even in blended families where the level of contention is manageable, vacation planning is an absolute necessity.
Families that are operating (or should be operating) under the terms of a court-ordered child custody order or agreement often have strict deadlines to give notice of vacations, dates, and itineraries. In most cases, the notice requirements for alerting the other parent of the time that you are planning on going on vacation with your children are spelled out. Some situations call for as little as a 30 day written notice to the other parent, but as a rule of thumb, the sooner, the better. With hotel and airline reservations needing to be made, waiting until the last minute or the stated time in your order or agreement may not allow for any disagreements as to dates, activities, itineraries or length of stay that always seem to come up. Adding to that; parents often find out too late that there may be actual travel issues like passport issues or fears of parents and children traveling to counties not respecting the “The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction” that can only be determined by court intervention. On a more benign level, often simple issues like children’s sports and activity schedules can be hurdles just as high to overcome.
When real disagreements over holiday and vacation planning arise, they may need to be brought to court on an expedited or emergency basis. It is important to recognize that it is solely up to the courts to determine whether your issue rises to the level of an exigent circumstance or emergency which often, travel issues do not.
As such, as the vacation season will be here before you know it, every parent planning to travel with children should review any applicable custody agreement and order and follow it to the letter. Should the other parent’s consent or affirmation of vacation plans not be promptly received, it may be necessary to consult with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.
John A. Zurzola, Esq. is a Family Law attorney practicing Divorce, Child Custody and Child Support, Pre-Nuptial Agreements, Domestic Violence and Adoption in, Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, and Chester Counties. Please call 610-272-5555 for more information.