Custody FAQs: Can I Take My Child Out of Town for Spring Break?

Custody FAQs: Can I Take My Child Out of Town for Spring Break?

Have you been anxiously awaiting spring break? Many families use this break in the school year to take their children on vacation. With a whole week at their disposal, many people plan trips out of state or even out of the country. However, if you're divorced, spring break travel becomes more complicated. Below we look at how out-of-town travel is handled and provide families with some helpful tips for planning vacations with their children post-divorce.

Vacation Planning in Parenting Plans

When parents divorce, they develop a parenting plan as part of their custody agreement. In this parenting plan, they will outline whether or not a parent wishing to take the child on vacation will be required to notify or get the other parent's permission. Just because you plan your trip on your time does not mean that you do not have to involve your co-parent when taking your child out of the area.

Florida Statute 61.13 outlines the state's requirements for a parenting plan. In this statute, it is noted that the co-parents must develop a parenting plan that clearly outlines a time-sharing schedule and which parent is responsible for what when it comes to major issues like health care, health insurance, school-related matters, etc. Though this statute does not include provisions regarding whether parents can take their children on out-of-state vacations, it is strongly recommended that parents include this information in their parenting plan.

What If Vacations Aren't Covered in My Parenting Plan

While parents do their best to develop useful, detailed parenting plans that will serve them in the long term, some matters are mistakenly left out or which you overlooked at the time. Divorcing is very stressful, especially when you have children, and the vacation you're going to take five years from now is probably not high on your list of priorities. That's okay. Just because vacations aren't covered in your parenting plan doesn't mean you can never take your children on a trip.

If you find that your parenting plan provides inadequate guidance, you and your co-parent may wish to come to a new agreement, specifically regarding vacations. You may be able to work this out among yourselves, or you may want to get help from a mediator. Regardless of how you establish your rules for vacations, you want to be sure to get the agreement in writing. For help with this, turn to an experienced family law attorney, like ours at Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A.

Can I File for a Modification?

While parenting plans can be modified, modifications are typically only allowed when there has been a substantial change in the child or parent's circumstances. Making changes to accommodate vacation plans may not qualify. If you believe you have grounds for a modification, reach out to one of our attorneys for help.

Tips for Traveling with Kids Post-Divorce

Is this your first time taking a trip with your kids post-divorce? Perhaps the last trip you took didn't go well, and you're looking for guidance. We know that negotiating vacations with your co-parent can be challenging. Below we provide some helpful tips for planning vacations with your children.

Review Your Parenting Plan

As we mentioned earlier in this blog, parents typically outline the rules for taking their children on vacations in their parenting plan. Here you will find your time-sharing schedule, who gets the children for what holiday, and the expectations for keeping the co-parent involved.

Common vacation provisions included in parenting plans are:

  • Your co-parent must be notified every time you take your children out of town, regardless of how far you are going
  • Co-parents only need to inform the other parent when they are leaving the state or leaving the country
  • Co-parents must ask each other's permission before taking the children out of state or out of the country

Parenting plans typically also show which parent gets the children for school breaks, including spring break. Some parents divide holidays and school breaks, and that split remains static. However, some parents trade off with each other. Knowing what days you have your child during spring break is your first step in planning.

Plan Well In Advance

The sooner you start planning your vacation, the better. This is especially true if you plan to ask your co-parent to cede or trade some of their parenting time. Post-divorce, it can be challenging to take a spontaneous trip. You never know what the other parent has planned, and as they get older, children will have their own plans and schedules. Planning for your trip early will help everyone get on the same page and allow you time to make adjustments should conflicts arise.

Keep Your Co-Parent in the Loop

Keeping your co-parent apprised of your spring break plans is incredibly important, even if spring break falls on your days with the kids. It can be emotionally difficult to see your children take a trip without you, especially if you are recently divorced. Making sure the other parent knows when and where you are going can help them feel more secure. It can also help you avoid conflicts.

Relatedly, it is recommended that you provide your co-parent with emergency contact information and how they can get ahold of the children while they are on vacation. This can make everyone feel more secure, especially if the trip is out of state or out of the country.

To learn more about navigating school breaks with your co-parent, read our blog on summer break custody.