It is summer and with school out, many divorced or separated fathers in New Jersey working with us have a common question that goes along the lines of “I’d like to take the kids with me on my three-week vacation. We’d be going out-of-state. Can I do it?”
For a custodial father, typically my answer is “Yes, provided it doesn’t interfere with the mother’s visitation schedule. If it does, get her permission if you’re on good terms. If you’re not getting along or she is raising a fuss about it, we can ask a family court judge to approve your vacation plans.”
The answer is a bit more complicated for a non-custodial father.
This is why I thought it would be useful to talk about how divorced fathers in New Jersey can take their children with them on an extended summer vacation.
Non-Custodial Fathers in New Jersey and Long Vacations
Obviously, it’s best to take a long vacation with the children in the summer when their school year is finished. Courts are reluctant to grant permission to take kids out of school during the regular term except for exceptional circumstances such as to attend a funeral after the death of a grandparent.
At the same time, we did help one client where the only time he was allowed to miss out on work for a lengthy period was during the year-end holiday break. He wanted to take his children with him to Florida but they’d miss the first week of school in January as a result. The mother wasn’t happy about the idea and tried to block his plans. But when we explained to a judge that it was the dad’s only option and the visitation agreement provided for him to have the kids during an extended vacation each year, permission was granted.
But because each situation is uniquely different – as are the dynamics of every former family unit – you are best off asking for advice before going online to book flights, hotels and car rentals.
New Jersey Custody Fathers and Vacation Plans
Even custodial fathers have issues to confront and resolve even though their situation is somewhat different.
In planning a long trip with your kids, make sure the dates you will be away with the children do not interfere with dates in the custody and visitation agreement that belong to the mother. If they do, then you will need to obtain her permission and, most likely, negotiate some replacement time that makes up for when she would have had the children.
Legally, you may not prevent the non-custodial parent from seeing their children during the time you have agreed they may. If you try without getting permission from either the mother or a judge, a court will come down hard on you.
Finding Common Ground
If you are still negotiating the terms of your divorce, this is the best time to lay out vacation schedules for the children, especially if either you or your ex anticipate wanting a lengthy holiday in the summer.
For one thing, this strategy can avoid problems down the road. If you get any resistance from your ex at vacation time, you can point to the agreement that gives you certain rights whether or not you are the custodial parent.
For another, it provides some certainty for your children during a time when they are likely to be feeling a lot of uncertainty. The younger the children, the more important it for you to provide them with as stable a schedule and life as possible.
If you want to discuss any vacation or custody issues, feel free to call me or any of the attorneys at the family law firm for men in New Jersey. Reach us at either 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair, at 862.245.4620.