Vacations and Child Custody

Vacations and Child Custody

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Life following divorce has many challenges for families, including the difficulty of becoming accustomed to living according to the terms of a parenting agreement or court-ordered schedule. While once a family enjoyed the holidays and a family vacation together every year, after a divorce, summer vacation, school holidays, and family travel often become contentious issues.

How do you plan for vacations after a divorce without breaking the terms of a parenting-time agreement in Colorado?

Vacations and Child Custody

Splitting Parenting Time After a Divorce in Colorado

Colorado family courts offer many options for splitting parenting time, or what other states call child custody. Parents may review these options for when a child lives with or spends time with each parent and negotiate their own parenting time or custody schedules. When divorcing spouses can agree to co-parent without contention they can settle on a mutually agreeable schedule such as a 50/50 time split arranged in one of several ways such as:

  •  The 2-2-5-5 schedule, which divides parenting time evenly with 2 days with one parent, 2 days with the other, then 5 days with one parent followed by 5 days with the other, and then beginning again.
  • The 2-2-3 plan is a similar schedule that works better for babies or very young children since it addresses the need for shorter stretches away from each parent.
  • The 3-4-4-3 schedule also splits time evenly with longer stretches apart than the 2-2-3 plan but fewer than the 2-2-5-5 plan.

Each of these popular parenting time schedules allows for an even number of weekdays and weekends for each parent.

Older children and teens may prefer that parents choose an every-other-week schedule.

For some families, it works better for one parent to have primary custody while the other parent has a visitation schedule such as one evening per week and every other weekend in a 70/30 split.

If parents cannot arrive at an agreed-upon schedule for a judge to sign into a court order, then the impartial judge will choose a schedule for them that he or she finds to be in the child’s best interest.

How do Holidays and School Vacations Work With a Child Custody Order?

Parenting schedules also typically specify how the parents plan to split holidays and summer vacations. It’s always best if parents are able to work out arrangements that work well for their children without requiring intervention by a judge who doesn’t know the children or the family traditions. If one parent has a special Thanksgiving tradition and the other parent really enjoys Halloween, they may be able to work out a holiday schedule that works for them both by negotiating for the holidays they each prefer. Otherwise, the court will order a reasonable split such as holiday mornings with one parent and evenings with the other if the parents live close enough to make this feasible. They could also choose to alternate each year, so if one parent has the children on Thanksgiving one year and the other parent has them on Christmas, the following year they reverse the holiday custody.

Parents may also split summer vacation, choose to keep their normal, school-year parenting schedule all summer, or alternate summers.

Planning a Vacation Trip Within the State

If a parent plans a vacation with the children in their home state of Colorado during their normal designated parenting time, they do not need permission from the other parent—though clearly, it’s best to inform the parent of the trip and itinerary. If the planned vacation time overlaps with the other parent’s scheduled custody they have the option of working it out together if they can openly communicate. The majority of parenting plans accommodate the parents’ rights to make temporary changes to the schedule as needed as long as both parents agree. Ex-spouses may wish to put the agreement in writing to address any concerns.

Are Out-of-State Vacations Allowed In Colorado Custody Agreements?

Most custody or parenting time agreements either settled on by parents or ordered by a judge will specify whether or not a parent can take a child out of state on a vacation. Most parenting plans require the parent to get permission from the other parent when traveling out of state with the children. If a parent has a history of non-compliance with custody orders the court may place a restriction on the order stating that the parent cannot remove the child from the state. Because child custody laws are different in each state it can be challenging to navigate the system should a parent make unauthorized changes to the custody agreement while out of state.

Parents taking children on an international vacation typically require written permission from the co-parent. Only about half of the countries in the world participate in the Hague Convention civil tool for enforcing a country’s custody orders while abroad.

A Denver child custody attorney can help you with a parenting time agreement that addresses child custody and vacation concerns.