Summer visitation is upon us. For noncustodial parents or parents who are time sharing their children this is an important time. For those lucky enough to have a co-parenting situation where conflict is at a minimum this time will be less stressful. However, for those parents who do not enjoy such a co-parenting relationship, this can be a very stressful event. The best advice I give to my clients wanting to experience their entire summer vacation is to plan ahead and often.
Each parent must abide by the terms of their final judgment of divorce or coparenting agreement. When summer visitation is laid out it is usually a step-by-step process of requesting time with their children. There is usually a notice requirement for the noncustodial parent to provide to the custodial parent. This notice is typically 30 days in advance of the intended dates for summer visitation. Typically the noncustodial parent does not have to agree with the dates but only notice must be provided in a timely fashion. Where this gets tricky is it is usually required to be in writing. With the advent of electronic media today, most parents only have time for a quick email, text or post to the other. While this might suffice in a relationship where the parents communicate in a positive manner, it might not work for those high-conflict situations. In a high conflict relationship, it is best for the non-custodial parent to send the request well in advance of the 30 days and then send it by written letter via certified mail as well as email and/or text. This will make sure that the request complies with the court order granting that parent summer vacation with the children.
When thinking of requesting your summer visitation, take out your final judgment of divorce or other visitation paperwork and read it again to refresh your memory. It is always best to be in compliance with each part of the order before complaining that the other parent is not cooperating.
What to do if the other parent does not abide by the visitation order? This is a very sad situation. The parent that is not willing to put their children first and foster a loving relationship with both parents only hurts the children. If you are in a situation where you anticipate or where summer visitation is denied to you, it is time to file a contempt of court action on the custodial parent. The quicker you react the better since the noncustodial parent will be trying to salvage any summer vacation left on the table. An attorney can guide you through the process and may even request emergency relief from the court in such situations. Still even the best attorney may not be able to salvage your summer plans in some cases but it is vital that the noncustodial parent proceed with the action to save the next year.
If the custodial parent is found to be in contempt they could face up to 5 days in jail for each contempt. This is the only relief or tool the court can use in these situations. Other ways to get relief is to recommend mediation to sort out the issues between the parties so that the children may enjoy summer with both parents. If the court system is back logged and the other parent will agree, mediation can be a faster solution.
We at The Zwiebel Law Firm are always here to answer your questions and assist you in any family law matter. Family Law is our focus and we return every call within 24 hours. Our attorneys are always on call and each voicemail is forwarded to an attorney via email as soon as it is received. We know that family law issues do not just happen 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week.