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I scheduled a vacation outside our parenting plan. What do I do?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2021 | Child Custody |

Sometimes, life doesn’t go exactly according to plan. This can be especially true for families, with all the events, groups, extracurricular activities and other things you have to schedule.

What if you have a parenting order in place but you want to schedule something that conflicts with it? Say you had a chance for a great family vacation this holiday season, but your ex is supposed to have the kids at that time?

Your Arizona parenting order is a court order. That means you are required by law to follow it until such time as you get a court to modify the order.

Unfortunately, there’s no good way to get the court to modify a parenting order just to handle a single situation. Modifying your parenting time or legal decision-making authority is generally only allowed when there has been a substantial change of circumstances since the order was first issued.

On top of that, you generally have to wait at least six months – usually a year – before you can even ask a court to modify your parenting order.

In other words, going to court to change your parenting order just so you can schedule a vacation probably isn’t going to work.

So, can I deviate from the parenting order?

Not unless you get clear permission from your children’s other parent. This would generally include arrangements for make-up time for the parenting time they missed.

If you are not confident your ex will not complain about the missed time even after agreeing to it, consider getting the agreement in writing.

Ideally, two people who are coparenting would be able to cooperate on a one-time deviation from the parenting schedule without too much argument – if the reason for the deviation supports the children’s best interest.

That said, not every set of coparents can do that. If you can’t come to an agreement with your ex, you will not be able to schedule your vacation over their parenting time.

What happens if I deviate from the parenting order anyway?

Since it’s a court order, you could face penalties if you do not follow it. These penalties include:

  • Being found in contempt of court
  • An order for make-up time for the missed parenting time
  • Being ordered to take parent education at your own expense
  • Being ordered to undergo family counseling at your expense
  • A civil penalty of no more than $100 per violation
  • Being ordered to participate in mediation or alternative dispute resolution at your expense
  • Any other order by the court that it decides is in the children’s best interests

In addition to those penalties, you could be ordered to pay your ex’s court costs and attorney fees related to the violation.