Summer Schedules for Divorced Parents

Thursday, June 19, 2014 | 12:25 am

Summer marks an opportunity to break away from school schedules, Saturday morning practices and games, and pen in some fun activities and adventures with your kids. With the days longer and no school commitments on Monday, it’s easy to agree to a late-night movie, or stay a little longer at the beach to watch the sunset. But should divorced parents take that same easy-come-easy-go approach with their child custody agreement during the summer break?

We spoke with Casey Marticorena, a family law attorney at the Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer, who says parents should not take a relaxed, assuming approach to their child custody agreements. “It’s always better to err on the side of caution when making even the smallest change to a child custody agreement, even if it’s temporary,” said Marticorena. “Not abiding to it can trigger a court hearing requested by the other parent, or in more serious circumstances, the involvement of law enforcement.”

Marticorena offered tips on a few summer vacation scenarios and how parents can make temporary adjustments to avoid conflict down the road.

First let’s start with a basic request to alter the child custody schedule. Parents who have agreed upon an early Sunday exchange in the original agreement, may want to extend those hours, or perhaps modify the weekdays spent between parents to accommodate for travel, summer camps and more. “Ideally, the Summer and vacation schedule would already be detailed in the court order, but if it is not, the requesting parent should create a revised schedule, and have that document signed by the parents and the judge,” Marticorena said. “This is key since having the Judge sign the agreement makes it a court order without the necessity of filing a Request For Order (RFO) or appearing in court. If there is no agreement, then a party can file an RFO and obtain orders from the court.”

Next, Marticorena talked to us about traveling out of state or out of the country with the child. It’s never safe to assume that the parent has the legal right to travel beyond state boarders with the child, even if those travel dates fall on his/her child custody days. “The best practice for parents who wish to travel with their child out of state, and especially out of the country is to file an RFO with the court to formally receive court documented permission,” Marticorena said. “The parent traveling should initiate the RFO well in advance of the departure date. It’s important to stress that traveling without the other parent’s consent can trigger law enforcement to intervene.”

Lastly, parents with older children may disagree on their child’s summer vacation requests. For example, a child may request to stay with one parent for the duration of the summer, or a high school graduate who is 17 years of age and still considered a minor, might request to backpack through a foreign country without parental supervision. For conflicts such as these, an RFO can be filed and the decision left to the jurisdiction of the court. “Bear in mind that if the high school graduate is requesting to travel to a country that’s been deemed unsafe by the U.S. Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, then permission will most likely be denied. It’s a case-by-case basis, but the outcome will always be based on what is in the best interest and safety of the child,” Marticorena said.

As the summer comes to a close, Marticorena also advises the same communication and planning to transition back to school. “It’s just as important to talk about when to start normalizing the child’s daily and bed time routine in preparation for the new school year, as well as confirm when the original child custody schedule will go back into effect,” said Marticorena. With open communication and planning, shared child custody can be smooth and enjoyable for everyone.

The Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer is located at 201 South Lake Ave. For more information, call (626) 683-8113 or visit http://www.pasadenalawoffice.com.

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