It’s wintertime… and it’s freezing outside.
But guess what?
It’s time to start thinking about summer vacation. What better time to think about summer vacation plans with your kids than while it’s cold and windy outside!
I wanted to provide some friendly tips for you, for your summer vacation planning if you’re in a shared custody situation.
The first thing is, now’s the time to be planning. If you wait until June or until May—or even April—to start planning and having those conversations with your ex, they might say no. By the time you file a complaint and get to the courthouse, it’s going to be July before your court case even gets heard. And you’re not going to have any time to even have that debate.
So, the first step is to plan ahead. Go ahead and get those dates on the calendar, go ahead and run those dates by the other party. That way, if anything comes up and you’re not going to be able to agree, you’ve got time to work it out, you’ve got time to go to mediation, you’ve got time to just try to discuss it out with them at the park or at Starbucks.
You know, if you wait until the spring, then by the time you can follow the formalities required to get in front of a judge—if it should come to that—it’ll be way too late. And unfortunately, then you’re stuck with whatever you can get, or whatever the court order allows.
The other thing is try to be considerate and flexible whenever possible. Before you buy those plane tickets, before you book that mountain house, beach house, that trip to Europe, or whatever you’re going to do, make sure you get those dates clear.
If you have a court order for custody, and it’s a situation where you get two weeks, they get two weeks and back and forth—or if you do one month, they do one month—then, no problem. If you’re doing it within the bounds of your court guidelines, then most of the time, you just have to let them know what you’re doing. Whatever you do, if you have a court order, make sure you comply with every bit of that to a tee.
Now, of course, you all may agree to something different. And that is perfectly okay if the court order allows it—and usually it will, if you can agree.
But my last tip for you is to get it in writing. You absolutely cannot, in this day and age, spend $3,000 on a beach house down in Myrtle Beach for the weekend or and then they just say sure, yeah, sounds fine to me. And you don’t even have it in a text message… or you deleted the text message.
And all of a sudden, they go “Oh, you know, that’s my week, we’re gonna go to the mountains.” If I had a nickel for every time I had that I’d have a huge stack of nickels!
So it’s really important to communicate what your expectations, goals, and ideas are and why. A lot of times, if folks don’t know what you’re trying to do, they’ll assume you’re just doing it to spite them. But if the truth is you’re doing it because that’s the week that your mom can meet you down at the beach and you were all going together, then they might be more receptive and open to that.
The second thing is, by planning far in advance, if things are not going to be agreed upon, you’ve got time to get to the next step, whether that’s hiring a lawyer or going to mediation or court.
We’ve got four and a half months before summer vacation. So let’s go ahead and get those things on the calendar. Talk those things out, and that way we can move things forward if we can’t do it amicably.
Third, stay flexible, stay considerate. You might have years where you can’t be flexible. So if you can, be flexible, and then once you reach an agreement, put it in writing.
If you do those four tips, I’m confident you’ll be able to have a successful and fun summer vacation when it’s finally warm outside.