Deciding who will get the kids over spring break may be as simple as consulting your divorce agreement, but you need to structure it right.
As you negotiate your parenting agreement, consider whether you plan to do something special with spring break, like travel, take the week off of work, or the like. If you do, include spring break in your parenting agreement.
Under Arizona law, parenting plans are required to be in the children’s best interests. Generally, family courts work to maximize each parent’s parenting time, although the fact that parents share legal decision-making authority does not necessarily mean they will have equal parenting time.
Parenting plans should be specific and must contain, at the least:
- Whether the parents share legal decision-making authority
- The parents’ rights and responsibilities regarding childcare and areas such as healthcare, education and religion
- A practical parenting time schedule that includes holidays and school vacations
- A procedure for picking up and dropping off the children, including the location and who will be responsible for transportation
- A procedure for changes to the plan, including child relocation requests, along with what will happen if the plan is violated
- A procedure for parents’ periodic review of the plan
- A procedure for the parents to communicate about the children, including how and how often the communication will take place
- A statement that each parent has read, understands, and will abide by the requirements for notification when a child could be exposed to a registered sex offender
There are four basic options for dealing with spring break:
Follow your regular schedule. In your parenting plan, lay out that the children will celebrate spring break as it falls on the regularly scheduled parenting time.
Divide the time. This doesn’t necessarily have be an equal division, if an unequal division makes more sense for your family. In your parenting plan, consider setting up specific days and times. For example, you might say that the children will spend the first half (Friday evening through Wednesday at noon) of spring break with Parent A and the second half (Wednesday at noon through Sunday evening) with Parent B.
Alternate years. One parent gets spring break with the kids during even years and the other during odd years. For example, you could state that the kids will be with parent A during spring break in even years and Parent B in odd years, beginning after school on Friday and going through 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Substitute another holiday. For example, you could agree that Parent A always gets the kids for spring break, while Parent B gets them the week surrounding the Fourth of July. Be as specific as you can about how long the holiday periods will be and when the children can expect to be picked up.
Remember that school districts plan spring break far in advance and generally make the school year calendar available in September, if not earlier. This should give you ample opportunity to plan for spring break, no matter how you plan to handle the division.
That’s important because it’s always helpful to plan in advance, especially if you make specific plans and share them with your kids’ other parent.
Reminder: If you will be traveling out of state or abroad with the children, you may need the other parent’s permission. You should consider carrying a notarized consent to travel form, especially if you will be leaving the U.S. Make certain the other parent has a way to contact you in case of an emergency.
Finally, if your kids will be traveling with their other parent, wish them a good time. It’s important to let your children know that you want them to enjoy their time with their other parent and that you value a strong relationship between them and both parents.