Planning Your Summer Vacation

By Molly Murphy

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

Ahh, summer time.  For children it’s that magical time of the year when they are off school.  For divorced dads it is a switch in the usual child custody plan.  Every parenting plan has different language for summer vacation and subsequent travel plans, so please read your parenting plan closely.  Every single plan is written differently.


As parents approach the spring they begin to plan their child’s summer as well as their family vacations.  Many dads wonder when they can plan the vacation, how long it can be and where it can be.  That depends on the language in your Parenting Plan.

Some plans use the language that parties shall enjoy the same custody schedule that they have year round.  Each party can request one two-week period every summer to be enjoyed for vacation.  Each party must notify the other 30 days in advance.  Although you have 30 days to let the other parent know, I would recommend giving the other parent a call prior to setting your vacation dates.

Other language can include that the parties share a week on/week off plan.  This plan also usually involves allowing each parent to take two weeks for a continuous vacation.  Another version of the plan can be that each parent takes three two-week sessions and then notify the other parent of said dates on pre-set dates.  In addition, out-of-town parenting plans can allow for a child to spend the majority of their summer with the other parent.

Please remember that your vacation or summer schedule with your child is your time with your children.  Unless you have previously agreed with the other parent for a specific summer activity, this is your time to plan what you want with your child.  Have you always wanted to show your kids where you went to college?  Want to finally see the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine?  This is your chance.

Clients always ask how far distance wise they can go on their family vacation.  Most parenting plans require the parent taking the child out of town to provide an itinerary and contact number when they leave the area or even the state.  Some plans require that if the child will be leaving the country the other parent has to sign specific paperwork.  If these are not conditions used in your Parenting Plan then you can take your children anywhere.

Please also be aware that because your child is out of school, exchange points and times may vary.  Also, as your child gets older, courts are more willing to grant the non-custodial parents more summer time.  So check your Parenting Plan and have a great vacation!


Margaret “Molly” P. Murphy is an Associate Attorney in the Arnold, Missouri office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Murphy is admitted to practice law in the state of Missouri. Ms. Murphy was born and raised in St. Louis. She received her B.A. in Political Science and English Language and Literature in 1998 from the University of Tulsa where she graduated magna cum laude. Ms. Murphy received her Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2001.

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