School is Out….Navigating Summer Custody Issues

Schools OutNow that your children are finished with school for the summer, a number of issues with respect to custody may crop up:

Summer Camp:  You want to sign up your children for summer camp, either day camp or possibly, overnight camp but the other parent doesn’t agree, or doesn’t want to pay for camp.  Now what?  The decision to enroll a child in camp is a joint legal custody issue which generally should be made by both parents together.  If one parent will not agree, the other parent will need to seek court intervention before the child can be enrolled.  If your children typically attended these types of camp during the marriage and they are commensurate with the lifestyle you had during the marriage, a court will likely find that summer camp is reasonable and appropriate for the children.  With respect to the expense, generally the camp expense is split in proportion to each party’s income.

Vacation:  Each party should typically have the children for uninterrupted time during the summer to take a vacation.  These weeks can either be consecutive or nonconsecutive.  Each party should provide the other party with their itinerary in advance, including the place where they are staying, any flight information and a telephone number where the children can be reached.  Make sure to agree in advance whether vacation still includes the other party’s weekend or not.

Consent to Travel:  Because of issues surrounding abduction of children, many airlines are requiring the noncustodial parent to sign a consent to travel that the custodial parent must present to the airline before the children will be permitted to board the airplane, especially if you are traveling out of the country.  You should check with your airline to see what their specific requirements are, which may also include presenting a certified copy of any custody order in place.

Passports:  If you plan to take your child out of the country and the child does not already have a valid passport, you must take care to follow the rules set forth at http://www.travel.state.gov, which are very particular as well as bring the necessary documents.  Generally both parents will need to appear in the passport office with the child to apply for the passport or to renew an expired passport, unless one parent signs the parental consent form as required.  Children’s passports are only valid for five years so plan accordingly and give yourself plenty of time to obtain the passport well in advance of your trip.

Change of School:  If you believe that a change of school is in your child’s best interest, you should not wait until August to raise this issue with the other parent, because if the other parent does not agree, you will not have the matter heard by a judge prior to the start of school in September.  Plan ahead and file your application with the court as early as possible during the year.

Summer is usually a carefree time to kick back and relax.  Try to avoid the stress by planning ahead with respect to the issues noted above.

By: Dori F. GreenDori Green

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