Planning summer activities and vacations for school-aged children can be an extremely time-consuming exercise. For parents who have divorced or separated, there can be added complexities in trying to accommodate vacations with pre-existing custody arrangements and the need to accommodate multiple households in planning. With that in mind, we’d like to offer our readers some tips on how to ease the stress around vacation planning.

Plan your schedule well ahead of time

The best way to minimize conflict and make planning easy is to get a head start on it. If you’re in the early stages of ironing out the details of a divorce, it makes sense to include how vacation schedules will be managed and commit those plans to paper. Doing so at this stage can save a lot of stress down the road. Of course, for many parents the opportunity to do this has already passed. In this case, take the opportunity to discuss schedules well ahead of the summer months. Trying to do so when school has just ended can be very difficult.

Once a schedule has been agreed to, it is important to respect it and follow it. Conflicts over not following a schedule can lead to  more stress for everyone involved, including litigation and the costs that come with it. One way to make following a schedule easier is to be extremely specific when planning it.

Tips for travelling outside of Canada

If you are planning to take your child on a vacation outside of Canada without the child’s other parent, we recommend you have the other parent sign a travel consent form which authorizes you to travel outside of Canada with the child. Canada has no legal requirement to do so, but the government still strongly recommends doing so in the event that immigration authorities in the country or countries you are visiting require one. In addition, Canadian border agents or border agents in countries where there is no requirement for the form might still have questions. Being prepare with this document can lead to quicker processing at customs and a reduced chance of missing a flight.

In addition, make sure to pack documents such as a copy of the child’s birth certificate and a photocopy of the passport of the child’s other parent (a driver’s license will also be ok here).

Be mindful of emotions

Children are creatures of routine. If they are used to talking daily to their other parent most days, you should make efforts to provide them with the opportunity to talk to them while on vacation. In addition to the normal expectations a child may have around this, being away from a parent might add more emotions to the mix. It’s also a good idea to be sensitive to the needs of the other parent, especially if they are used to seeing or talking to the child on a daily or frequent basis. Technology such as Skype or Facebook’s Facetime allow for video interaction in addition to texts or phone calls.

You may find yourself in a situation where the other parent refuses to sign a consent form (another reason to plan ahead). In the event of this, you have the option of going to court to seek an order allowing you and the child to travel. Of course, you should be aware of the time it takes to get through the courts and how that might impact the ability of you to go on vacation.

At Gelman & Associates we work with our clients to help them learn how we can protect their custody and access rights. We strive to provide our with the information and resources necessary to make informed decisions about family law matters. Conveniently located in six offices throughout Ontario, our offices are easily accessible by transit and off-highway. In order to be available to clients and prospective clients, our phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM. Call us at  1-844-769-0737 or contact us online for an initial consultation.