Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

Does Your Parenting Plan Address Spring Break?

While school districts vary, most children will have a week or so off school sometime during March. Spring break can be both an exciting and challenging time to divorced parents. There are certain things you should consider well in advance of your kids being off school.

Divorced parents are no strangers to discussing future events. Over the course of a divorce, the mother and father had to discuss the child's education, medical expenses and other financial considerations. One of the biggest negotiations, however, is the determination of a fair parenting time plan. An experienced family law attorney will likely lead a discussion where the parents will decide on pick-up/drop-off times and places, how sick time will be balanced and how the holidays will be split up.

In the time leading up to holidays, however, it is wise to revisit your existing parenting plan to ensure it is accurate and takes any recent changes into account.

Here are four questions that might crop up and challenge your parenting plan.

  • I know the week that my child is off school, but does spring break start the Friday that school lets out or the first Monday of the vacation? Outstanding question. If this level of detail wasn't addressed in the creation of your original divorce order, it is crucial that you come to an agreement now. If you've run out of time, at least discuss the matter with your ex in advance of spring break - and then seek a parenting plan modification through the legal system as soon as you can.
  • Over time, my ex and I have agreed to a schedule that is different than our original decree. Is this okay? In short, no. Verbal agreements are not legally binding or enforceable. If you want to make a change to any aspect of your divorce agreement, it is crucial that you seek a modification through the court.
  • For the first time, I have to work over spring break. Who will pay childcare costs? Typically, costs associated with childcare would have been addressed during the determination of child support. You might run out of time this year, but it is wise to address this topic with your lawyer so a modification can be made to your divorce decree.
  • We typically rotate, but my spouse can't take the kid this year. Should I just do it? Legally, if it's not addressed in your divorce decree, you're under no obligation to step outside of the boundaries you agreed upon. That said, your child shouldn't have to suffer based on the parent's changing work schedules. If you have time to discuss the matter with your attorney, that is an important first step. It might also be important to note changes or complications that crop up over the course of the year so you can modify your divorce decree with new language.

Creating a comprehensive yet flexible parenting plan is a challenging task. Even if you feel you've addressed every contingency with your attorney at the time of your divorce, it is likely that different scenarios will pop up over the course of the year that might add a certain level of complication that you didn't plan for. The best course of action is to identify the issue early rather than being surprised by a change in plans the night before a week-long vacation.

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