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Don't let summer vacation give you a parenting time headache

Ah, summer vacation. It's a time of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation, not just for the children in your life, but for you as well. Life goes a bit slower, not running at its usual breakneck pace, and even the daily grind of your job seems a bit less stressful in the summertime. Summer is also the perfect time to go on a trip to make memories with your children. No matter if it's across the state or across the country, family vacations are prime bonding time for parents and children alike, allowing everyone to enjoy new experiences while growing closer. All that can change, though, if your vacation plans – or those of your former partner and your child's other parent – run afoul of a preexisting child custody or visitation agreement.

If you and your co-parent have an amicable relationship and are able to make modifications to your parenting time arrangement, then a vacation shouldn't cause any sort of ruckus. If, however, you have a contentious relationship, a simple request for a minor modification can turn into a full-scale legal conflict.

There are ways to avoid these sorts of issues, though, but most need to happen well in advance of your vacation. First and foremost is planning. Giving your co-parent as much notice as possible of any requested modifications (like having an uninterrupted block of time with your children instead of your usual weekends-only visitation, for example) will not only make it more likely that your request will be accommodated, but it will also provide time for you to have the court intervene should you be unable to come to an agreement.

In addition, it is vitally important for the sake of the children that no child support payments are skipped during this time unless it has been requested of and approved by a family court judge. Child support arrears are taken very seriously, and there could be fines or penalties associated with missed payments.

Having some flexibility built into your parenting plan, as well as maintaining an open line of communication with your child's other parent can both make the process of summer-related custody and parenting time modifications much easier and less stressful for everyone involved, especially your children.

Source: FindLaw Law & Daily Life Blog, "Child Custody Over the Summer: Dos and Don'ts," Betty Wang, Accessed June 23, 2014.

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