One issue that a lot of separated or recently divorced parents fail to discuss is who will be with the kids when it’s time for Spring Break and they’re off school for a week or two. It’s not uncommon for Spring Break to creep up on families and create conflicts amongst divorced parents that can potentially necessitate additional legal assistance, and we fully understand just how much this vacation time can mean to divorced parents who don’t spend as much time as they’d like with their children.
But no matter what it’s first and foremost important to realize that Spring Break is supposed to be a time for kids to have fun and create lasting memories, and this is why we’ve created this list of tips and considerations to help you properly coordinate Spring Break with your ex.
Smart parents should always plan out the shared custody of their children when it comes to Spring Break time, and the following tips are crucial to keep in mind:
1. Long-Term Planning
There’s a good chance that you’ve already planned a special Spring Break vacation for this year, and that’s great, but you also need to consider the rest of your children’s Spring Break vacations over the course of their childhoods and entire life.
A popular option that a lot of divorced parents utilize is alternating who will get the kids each year for Spring Break, which would mean Mom gets the kids on even years and Dad in odd years, or vice versa.
This type of plan tends to work pretty well because it’s relatively easy to enforce amongst divorced parents and it makes it a lot easier to plan and prepare. But of
2. Set Ground Rules
It’s always important for divorced parents to establish their arrangements for Spring Break, as well as any other school vacation times like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Summer. This means that you may find that it’s better to share the Spring Break time amongst parents, but no matter what works best for your family it’s important to officially establish certain parameters. There isn’t any one solution that works for everyone, but you should always keep in mind what’s best for your children and you when you’re creating these Spring Break custody rules with your ex.
Schedule changes and special requests should be reported amongst divorced parents with plenty of preparation time so no one is taken by surprise, and any added expenses over Spring Break should also be recorded or at least tracked within your monthly statements if it’s deemed necessary to report such expenses
3. Make Everything Fair
When parents decide to split up the Spring Break week on a yearly basis it then becomes really important to ensure the split is fair amongst both parents. An example of this would be one parent splitting for the latter half of the week, but then always having the kids on Easter Sunday.
It’s always good to consider alternatives and maybe switching off who gets the kids during which half of the Spring Break week, or switching off who has the kids on Easter Sunday every year.
There are always alternatives to creating unnecessary friction with Spring Break custody time, but being readily available and open to compromise with your ex is always going to make this type of planning a little bit easier.
4. Consider Your Kids’ Schedules
As children get older and become separated amongst different levels of schooling, they’ll also begin to have different Spring Break weeks from one another. When divorced parents have multiple kids with different times off it can make it a little bit more difficult to successful craft a good Spring Break plan.
Although this can make things trickier, the different times of Spring Break for each child is always really important to consider when you’re preparing your plans.
5. Consider Each Parent’s Jobs
Each parent and family will be different, but Spring Break weeks can either be a good or bad time to take a full week of custody depending on employment situations. Divorced parents need to try to be as flexible as possible when it comes to working with their ex in order to determine how well Spring Break and other vacation time will work for each other.
This is where planning vacation time for the course of the entire year may come into play, and if your job is particularly hectic during the Spring Break time you could always negotiate an exchange for that time for a vacation period with the kids during the summer or winter months.
You’ll want to be able to spend time with your kids during their Spring Break, but if your job won’t allow you that free time then it could potentially be better to get added quality time during a different time of year when you’re more available.
6. Get Your Arrangements Written and Signed by a Judge
These types of vacation time negotiations are usually something that parents will undergo when they are in the middle of their divorce settlements or dissolution. Typically both parents will create a devised plan that helps them move forward, and this plan is then made into an Order of the court by a judge.
But of course Spring Break time is not always comprehensively established during the middle of a divorce, but there are ways to re-establish an Order of the court whenever you want. This is when both parents will create a Stipulation, which is a legally binding agreement between both parents and the Judge about really anything that needs to be addressed in order to help a divorced family.
When this arrangement becomes an Order it is mandatory that both parents follow what the arrangement entails. This ends up being a much more viable way to set your ground rules, as opposed to any verbal or written arrangement that isn’t signed by the Judge.
Helping divorced parents draft a Stipulation is something that we specialize in, so if you have any questions about how this type of document is created we can help you.
7. Keep Everything Easily Understandable
This is a tip for the overall crafting of important custody plans and agreements, and making everything easily understandable goes for so much more than just Spring Break and other vacation time.
You have to realize that you, your ex and a Judge will potentially be looking through these documents many years down the road from now. This means that knowing who has certain times with the kids should be quickly determinable.
Using easy-to-understand language like Mom has odd years and Dad has even years can help a lot so you can always refer back to this document and know what is your appropriate time with the kids.
8. Always be Flexible, and Keep Back-up Plans
One of the main ways that divorced parents run into issues about Spring Break and ubiquitous vacation time is through their legally binding agreement to figure out Spring Break time by mutual agreement of the parties each and every year. This type of agreement can work for a lot of divorced couples, and maybe you and your ex are flexible and working well together in terms of exchanging Spring Break time fairly, but this could always change.
You may truly believe that you and your ex will be able to work things out on a yearly basis when it comes to Spring Break and vacation times, but it never hurts to add in a clause that states something like, if mutual agreements are not reached, the plan for Spring Break becomes….
This type of legal clause could end up saving you a ton of hassles later down the road, especially if you and your ex aren’t so agreeable with one another years from now. By creating this type of clause you are also giving yourself a back-up plan that’s legally binding for both parties.
9. Create Lasting Memories on Spring Break
No matter what your plans are for Spring Break, it’s always important to keep what your children want to do most in mind, which is spend time with you.
This type of quality time becomes even more important to kids when their parents get divorced, so you should always be giving your children your full attention by making the most out of their Spring Break time.
If your kids are spending Spring Break with your ex then you should let them enjoy their time and ask questions later on so they know you are interested in what they’re up to when you’re not together. This type of consideration is also important in terms of establishing that you want your kids to have a good relationship with both parents as well. It’s their happiness that really counts, and making sure they know that’s what you care about most always goes a long way.
Contact a Trusted Divorce Attorney Today
So no matter what the Spring Break dynamics are for your family, just make sure you’re breaking away from the routines of life and creating memories that will last with you and your children for years to come!
If you and your former spouse are having trouble agreeing on a vacation plan for your child(ren), contact an experienced divorce attorney today.