Vacation Planning for Divorced or Separated Parents

Planning and arranging parenting schedules for separated or divorced families often poses a significant challenge. Many parents, family lawyers, and mediators assisting in the creation of these agreements overlook the importance of planning ahead for vacation time. As one might expect, vacations typically occur during the summer months and other extended school holidays. Regrettably, the lack of specificity in a parenting agreement often becomes glaringly apparent when the school year ends, leaving co-parents scrambling to make arrangements.

Discussing and setting up parenting schedules can be a confusing and often frustrating task for separated parents and their children, who unfortunately, often find themselves caught in the middle. Therefore, it’s crucial that vacation plans are thoroughly analyzed and agreed upon ahead of time, with clear, specific, and practical language used in the parenting agreement.

Creating and adhering to a parenting schedule that includes specific days and times is vital for the well-being of both parents and children. This need arises from the necessity for enforceability where required, and the even greater need to avoid any areas of possible confusion that can result in disputes and litigation.

When disagreements arise over parenting schedules, many parents end up spending a significant portion of their resources on a family lawyer or mediator to help resolve the dispute. In some cases, they may even seek a court order to “fix” the problem on an emergency basis. One effective way to avoid these situations is to be specific in the Order or Agreement about when each parent will exercise their vacation time. One possible method is the “default” provision that would, in relation to the summer vacation, be as follows:

“The parents shall each have two one-week periods with the children during the children’s summer vacation from school. These weeks would not (or would) be consecutive. The parents shall exchange dates for their respective vacation weeks no later than May 1st each year. The vacation period shall supersede the regular parenting schedule but not break the continuity of that schedule.”

“If the parents do not exchange dates and agree on a schedule by May 1st each year, the following schedule will be the order: The mother shall have the children for the second week in July and the second week in August. The father shall have the children for the third week in June and the third week in July.”

A provision such as the one above serves two purposes. First, and most importantly, it sets forth a schedule that will be in place if the parties cannot work out a schedule on their own, allowing each parent to have some certainty that a vacation will occur, and with no need for Court involvement. Second, it gives parents an incentive to work together to agree on a schedule, if the default schedule will not work.

Similarly, parents should think about “extended” school holidays and how to allocate parenting between each other well in advance. Extended holidays can include winter/Christmas vacation, spring break, Thanksgiving week, and extended time off for children attending year-round and semi-traditional schools.

How do you split holidays with divorced parents?

Holidays can be a challenging time for divorced parents. The key to successfully splitting holidays is to communicate effectively and make decisions that are in the child’s best interest. Parents need to discuss their travel plans well in advance and come to an agreement that respects both parent’s time with the child. If one parent objects to the other’s plans, seeking a court order granting permission or making an alternative temporary arrangement may be necessary. Remember, the child’s needs should always come first, and their routine should be disrupted as little as possible.

Can a separated parent travel with a child?

A separated parent can travel with a child, but certain legal requirements must be met. For instance, the travelling parent may need to obtain the other parent’s consent before the trip. This consent is often in the form of a written consent letter, which should be presented to immigration and border authorities upon request. If the other parent objects, the parent requesting the travel may need to obtain a court order granting permission. It’s also important to note that the consent letter should include specific language defining the scope and duration of the trip.

Should divorced parents go on vacation together?

While it’s not a legal requirement, some divorced parents choose to go on vacation together for the sake of their children. This decision largely depends on the parent’s ability to co-parent effectively and maintain a harmonious environment. If parents can put aside their differences and focus on their children’s needs, a joint vacation could be a positive experience. However, discussing this issue is crucial and ensuring that both parents are fully aware of the expectations and boundaries.

How do you travel with kids when divorced?

Travelling with kids after a divorce requires careful planning and open communication between parents. Before travelling abroad, the parent should obtain the other parent’s consent and provide detailed travel plans, including the country of destination, accommodation details, and activities planned for the children. It’s also important to check with airline representatives and border authorities about any additional requirements, such as a notarized letter of consent or specific passport details for the child. Remember, even a refusal from one parent can lead to complications at an international border, so it’s best to

Adhere to parenting schedules

Parents must adhere to parenting schedules and plan their lives accordingly. Except for unforeseen emergencies, parents should not try to deviate from an agreed-upon schedule. Often times, parents who have conflicted relationships with their separated/divorced spouse will assume, or hope, that it is acceptable to make plans (e.g., buy tickets, make non-refundable reservations, etc.) before getting the other parent’s approval on a weekend that he or she knows is the other parent’s parenting time because he or she has decided an adjustment or accommodation is needed (for a non-emergency situation). As one should suspect, the Courts appropriately frown upon such actions.

Parents who can work together cooperatively, with their children’s best interests at heart, can attempt to live with less than specific schedules. Unfortunately this situation is not common for the majority of parents and involves effort from both parents, particularly where one or both parents have job positions that do not have concrete schedules, such as firefighters, police and the military. Even if two parents start off working well with one another, the situation may change as the child gets older and new spousal partners become involved. That is why, regardless of your relationship with your separated/divorced spouse, the Court encourages you to have a specific parenting schedule so that you can plan your activities, holidays and vacations years in advance and never, or with limitation, spend unnecessary time and money in Court. Creating and adhering to such arrangements will eliminate the possibility of having to spend money and time in disputes and litigation.

Top 5 List: Vacation-Planning Tips

  • Keep your children’s best interest at heart.
  • Discuss and attempt to agree on specific dates and times for vacations well in advance.
  • Any agreed upon vacation schedule should be in writing, signed and dated by both parents and submitted to the court for approval in order to be enforceable.
  • If a true emergency arises that would interfere with the other parent’s parenting time, amicably communicate this with the other parent in as far advance as possible.
  • Remember that, as your children grow, their needs may be such that the parenting schedule may need to be re-visited to meet those needs.


Final Thoughts

Navigating the waters of co-parenting and vacation planning can be a daunting task for many families, especially those dealing with the aftermath of a divorce or separation. However, with careful planning and open communication, it’s possible to create a harmonious environment for your children, even when travelling outside of Canada or leaving for a summer vacation.

Remember, the key to successful co-parenting is planning ahead. This includes discussing vacation plans well in advance, ensuring that the non-travelling parent is well-informed, and making sure that all legal requirements, such as a consent letter or travel consent form, are met. It’s also important to keep in mind that each parent has a role to play in the child’s life, and respecting the other parent’s time with the child is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship.

In some cases, it might be necessary to seek the advice of a lawyer to ensure that all legal requirements are met, especially when it comes to immigration authorities and the minor child’s birth certificate. Remember, the lawyer-client relationship is confidential, and seeking legal advice does not necessarily mean that you’re anticipating conflict.

Moreover, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. This can be as simple as having regular phone calls or maintaining internet access to ensure that the child can contact the other parent when they’re away. This not only reassures the child but also fosters a sense of unity and cooperation between co-parents.

Lastly, while it’s important to plan ahead for summer vacations and trips, it’s equally important to consider the school year and other commitments. Remember, the child’s needs should always come first, and their routine should be disrupted as little as possible.

In conclusion, while vacation planning for divorced families can be complex, it’s not an insurmountable challenge. With careful planning, open communication, and a focus on the child’s needs, it’s possible to create a vacation plan that works for everyone involved. And remember, if you need help navigating this process, don’t hesitate to seek a free consultation with a professional who can guide you through it.

The Smart Divorce: Navigating the Challenges Together

We understand that you’ve arrived here because you’re facing the complexities of vacation planning as a divorced or separated parent. The journey is undoubtedly challenging, filled with uncertainties and potential conflicts. But remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Our team of professionals at The Smart Divorce is here to support you every step of the way.

We recognize the difficulties you’re experiencing, from coordinating schedules to ensuring your children’s needs are met. We understand the importance of clear, specific agreements and the need to avoid confusion that could lead to disputes. Our team is here to provide guidance, helping you navigate these challenges with less stress and more confidence.

We believe in the power of communication and planning. By working together, we can help you create a harmonious environment for your children, even amidst the complexities of co-parenting. We’re here to help you focus on what truly matters – the well-being of your children and the preservation of their joyful childhood memories.

Taking the first step towards a smarter divorce may seem daunting, but we assure you, it’s a step worth taking. We invite you to reach out and schedule a Get Acquainted Call with us. Let’s discuss your situation, answer your questions, and explore how we can support you in this journey.

Remember, every challenge you’re facing is valid, and every question you have is important. We’re here to listen, understand, and provide the support you need. Let’s navigate the path of co-parenting together, creating a brighter future for you and your children.

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