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Summer vacation is a time to relax, not to renew old fights with your ex over custody of your kids. You may want to take your children to the Bahamas, while he or she may only get the kids during the summer.
It's important to sort out these not-so-little details before making your summer vacation plans. With that in mind, here are five tips to make child custody one less thing to worry about:
1. Set Up a Vacation Schedule, And Stick to It.
With the kids off from school, there's plenty of time to plan a big Disneyland vacation, or even a cross-country road trip. However, if you don't sit down and discuss you plans with your ex, you may be back in court for visitation/custody interference.
A better way to spend your summer is to create a vacation schedule (perhaps with the help of an experienced child custody lawyer), have your ex sign off on it, and submit it to a family court judge. That way, everyone is clear on where the kids will be this summer, and it's in writing with the court.
2. Make Sure You Aren't Violating Your Custody Agreement.
Some custody or visitation agreements have geographical limits (e.g., your kids can't leave the state or country). If you're planning a summer vacation abroad, you may need need to get such an agreement modified. If you've already formed a vacation plan, it shouldn't be hard to have your ex stipulate to a custody modification that allows for travel.
3. Give Adequate Notice.
Well-laid plans are great, but don't spring them on your ex at the last minute. Give him or her at least a couple months (if possible) to be aware of you and your children's travel plans.
4. Exchange Custody in Safe Place.
Avoid making your child custody exchange any more stressful than it needs to be by meeting in a well-monitored public place where your children feel safe. Day cares or schools may be perfect for this, especially if you and your ex don't feel comfortable being in the same room with one another.
5. Let Kids Communicate With the Other Parent While on Vacation.
Summer vacation doesn't mean a communication embargo on your children's other parent. Skype may be a great way to allow your ex "virtual visitation," even while you're in a hotel room thousands of miles away.
Keep the legal peace with your ex and enjoy a great summer vacation with your kids.