Plan now for smooth summer vacations with the kids

The end of April is fast approaching, which means that it's not too early to start addressing summer vacation plans involving the kids with your ex.

By planning early and involving your child's other parent at this early juncture, you can avoid some of the strife that can mar even the best vacations.

Keep the following tips in mind as you make your summer vacation arrangements:

-- If your custody agreement deals with a vacation schedule, try to make your plans dovetail with it. If it just won't work, e.g., you want the kids for the annual family reunion in northern California the same weekend that your ex has booked Disneyland reservations, you're going to have to negotiate with your ex.

If your custody agreement did not specifically address vacation time, it may be necessary to return to court for a visitation or child custody modification.

-- Be courteous and give the kids' other parent plenty of notice about your plans to make sure they don't conflict with his or her own plans. When agenda changes appear on the horizon, loop your ex in as soon as is practical.

-- Keep your plans within any geographical limitations imposed by the courts. Some custody agreements forbid either parent taking the child out of California or the United States.

If you and the kids have your hearts set on a trip down to Cabo, all is not lost. You still may be able to make the trip, but in order not to be in violation of your custody agreement, you must obtain a stipulation from your ex granting permission for the kids to travel out of the country with you.

-- While on vacation with you, encourage and allow the kids to remain in touch with their other parent. Set them up with a Skype account for virtual visitations during vacations. Depending on the children's ages, the other parent could end the day by reading them a story or check in early over breakfast to learn of each day's planned activities.

-- If the ink is barely dry on your decree after a particularly acrimonious divorce, keep the drama to a bare minimum. Do custody exchanges in public places like schools, day cares and other locations familiar to the kids.

Source: Findlaw, "Top 5 Tips for Child Custody and Summer Vacation," Brett Snider, Esq., accessed April 21, 2017

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