Moving On & Getting Back to Normal
Divorce is hard on everyone involved, especially children. After your divorce is finalized, everything looks different, and parenting becomes more complicated. Even something as simple as a family vacation can be more complicated. However, this shouldn't stop you from planning and taking your children on a family vacation.
Taking vacations with your family is a great way to bond. After a divorce, taking a trip with your kids can offer you the relaxation you desperately need. However, many parents hesitate to take vacations with their children because they are uncomfortable with their new custody arrangement and don't want to rock the boat.
A Good Parenting Plan Features Travel Provisions
During your divorce proceedings, you likely came up with a parenting plan as part of your custody agreement. Many parenting plans feature provisions for travel. These will often outline what the parents are comfortable with when it comes to traveling, if there are any off-limits destinations, and what the planning protocols will be.
Common travel provisions found in parenting plans include:
- Rules regarding interstate and international travel
- Whether written consent from the other parent is required
- How much notice the other parent must be given
- What information travel itineraries should include
The first step to planning a family vacation after divorce is to review your parenting plan. If you find that your parenting plan doesn't offer travel provisions, you should consider seeking a parenting plan modification to have them included. To learn more about modifying parenting plans, review our blog on the subject here.
Read on for more helpful tips for traveling with a shared custody arrangement!
Tip #1: Plan Carefully
After a divorce, you will find that everything involving your kids requires more forethought and planning. However, with some extra attention to your trip's preparations, you can avoid any nasty surprises and help ensure that your trip goes smoothly and is enjoyable for everyone.
Before booking your tickets, you should:
- Review your custody agreement and parenting plan to ensure your trip is in compliance
- Look carefully at your children's visitation schedule and school schedule
- Avoid selecting dates that impact your ex's time with the children
- Avoid selecting dates that conflict with your children's school and extracurricular activities
Tip #2: Keep Lines of Communication Open
One of the best things you can do when learning to co-parent is to keep an open communication line with your ex. While this can be incredibly difficult, especially after a contentious divorce, learning to communicate effectively with your ex is incredibly beneficial for you and your children.
To facilitate communication before and during your vacation, you should:
- Give the other parent adequate notice of the trip
- Provide your ex with the trip's full itinerary
- Provide your ex with all plane ticket and hotel information
- Schedule time for your kids to check in with their other parent
- Ensure your ex knows how to reach you and the kids in case of an emergency
Tip #3: Keep Your Cool
When planning your first trip post-divorce, there will likely be points of friction or contention. If there are disagreements, do your best to stay calm and listen to your ex's concerns. Though it may involve some compromising on your part, see if you can find a reasonable resolution with your ex, and avoid arguing in front of the children. You also want to avoid complaining about your ex in front of, or to, the children. Try to stay focused on the end goal – taking a much-deserved trip with your kids!
It is not uncommon for disagreements to arise over vacations that occur during the holidays. During the holiday season, emotions can run high, and you may find disputes more difficult to resolve. Read our blog on sharing custody and planning visits over the holidays for more co-parenting support.
Tip #4: Have Fun!
Planning a vacation with a shared custody arrangement can be stressful. In addition to all the extra paperwork, you may not be on the best terms with your ex, and getting the trip planned may have been difficult. But remember, in the end, it'll have been worth it for this special time with your kids.
As time goes on, planning family vacations around your shared custody agreement will likely get easier as you and your ex grow into your co-parenting relationship and learn how to communicate with each other more effectively. It is also important to remember that you are not in this alone. If you find you need help modifying a parenting plan or help with other post-divorce or custody matters, contact Casey, Simmons & Bryant, PLLC. We are here for you.