When you’re divorced and have children, summertime can pose some real challenges when dealing with parenting agreements, visitation rights, travel, and vacations. You may want to tell your ex that you’d like to go on a family trip outside of the normal visitation schedule, or you may have other plans that might not meet the custody agreement. Here are some ways to effectively communicate with your former spouse about your summer plans and travelling safely and legally this summer. Summer plans with your kids after a divorce

Communicating Your Summer Plans

The most important part of your summer planning is to talk to your ex as early as possible, especially if your plans require a change in the custody agreement. You should never commit to a summer plan such as a camp, vacation, or other activity if it interferes with visitation rights without consulting with the other parent first. When speaking with your ex about your plans, it can also help if:

  • You have demonstrated your willingness to be flexible in the past
  • You give as much advanced notice as you can for the other parent to adjust his own plans for the summer
  • You are prepared to trade an equal amount of time in return

Even if you’re not on the greatest of terms with one another, this sort of simple negotiation is often the easiest and best solution to summer visitation issues.

Child Visitation Priority Scheduling

Don’t forget that many parenting plans have a summertime “priority schedule” that alternates years and gives the plans of one parent precedence over the other for that year. This is something that you agreed upon during the divorce and should respect, but sometimes there are situations when once-in-a-lifetime events happen that may interfere with that schedule. You may be able to negotiate a time or priority swap for a year if something unique comes along such as a wedding or a special trip overseas.

If your ex simply isn’t willing to agree, you have the option to move through the court system. This isn’t a guaranteed win, but a judge will consider whether the event or trip is in the best interests of the child and rule appropriately. Think carefully before you engage this option, as it can introduce new legal expenses that you may not be prepared for. Going the legal route can also take time, which is another reason why planning early is so important.

Out-of-State and Overseas Travel Considerations

If your travel plans could involve leaving the state or the country, there are special issues to consider. For interstate travel, your parenting agreement may require simply notifying the other parent of your intent to travel and may include sharing contact information. Other parenting agreements may be stricter and require actual parental approval for travel, which you should get in writing. Planning ahead and seeking approval as early as possible gives you the time to get legal help if the other parent refuses permission without a compelling reason.

For international travel, you should secure a written letter from your child’s other parent granting permission. Although you may never need to present the letter to authorities, having it with you can save time and hassle if you’re questioned at a border crossing.

Get Help With Your Parenting Plan

If you have questions about your parenting plan or traveling safely and legally with your children, the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny is here for you. We can help you get the necessary permission you need to travel, stop travel if you’re worried about your child’s safety, or make any modifications to your parenting plan. Call by phone, or use the contact link on this page to schedule a consultation with a legal professional in our Bellevue office today.


Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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