Vacation Time After Divorce in Massachusetts
Vacation Time After Divorce in Massachusetts
Couples who have a divorce have to think about what they are going to do with their joint children after divorcing. The younger the children are at the time of separation, the greater the potential harmful effect on their mental and emotional healthand development. Some young children may even blame themselves for their parents’ divorce.
Most parents will want to do their best for their kids, and that might mean staying together as parents until their children are less dependent, even if the marriage is not working out. It is also possible that any bad feeling between parents who ‘stay together for the kids’ may do more harm to the children than a well planned divorce. The best arrangement for children after divorce is for decisions about their care and welfare to be made jointly. Divorcing parents need to decide many things, such as:
- who is going to be the primary caregiver;
- how time with the children will be allocated, including vacation time;
- how the cost of looking after the children will be divided;
- how important decisions about their future will be made.
Divorces may be marred by disagreement, poor or acrimonious communication, distress and sometimes fear. If there is no chance of making a mutually satisfactory agreement about child custody, then parents will normally turn to the court to decide for them. Massachusetts’ courts, when asked to make a decision about child custody are primarily motivated by what is in the best interests of the children.
It may be advisable to talk through your child custody concerns with an experienced divorce attorney before making any final decisions or approaching the court.
What is Vacation Time?
When parenting time is planned as part of a child custody arrangement following a divorce in Massachusetts, the aim is to ensure that both parents have time with the children, even if only one of the parents has the role of primary caregiver. Parenting time as part of a well planned arrangement would normally mean the parent who is not the primary caregiver also having access to the children for a few hours, a day or a weekend on a regular basis. Child custody arrangements may also involve planning time with grandparents if there has been a natural bond developed during the time of the marriage.
In Massachusetts, the term ‘vacation time,’ when used in respect to child custody, doesn’t necessarily mean a traditional vacation with the kids when one or the other parent actually goes to somewhere nice, like the sea, the mountains or Disneyland, away from the children’s normal home. It is an acknowledgement that parenting time, as allocated, may not be enough to satisfy the desire of both the parents and the children for an extended period of time together. Vacation time, then, could equally well be a couple of weeks together at one of the parent’s home, as much as the same time as a road trip across America, or on a beach in Hawaii.
Vacation Time Doesn’t Have to be Too Rigid
Vacation time may also be divided up into separate periods of extended contact. If one of the parents does not live close enough to the primary caregiver for regular normal parenting time, the parenting plan may allow for that parent to spend a longer period with the children in one or more chunks to compensate for time missed normally. Vacation time may also be used to refer to time that the kids have with grandparents, especially if they live far away or overseas.
Normally, if the children are of school age, the vacation time would not be scheduled during school time. The longest school break is the summer break between mid June and early September. This would have been the usual time of the year when children would expect to do something special, or just spend more time at home with their family. A parenting plan would have to work out a schedule for this longest of school vacation periods. Either the whole vacation is broken into two so that each parent has an equal period with the children, or one parent has the whole vacation period with the kids one year and rotates this with the other parent.
There are other special times of the year which are outside what would be classed as normal contact. This includes birthdays and important celebrations like Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas, when there is also a longer school break, or other religious days of importance depending on the denomination of the family. Like the rest of a good plan for child custody, the more these periods are planned in advance, the less likely decisions aren’t left until the last minute, which can ruin contact time and lead to recriminations and acrimony.
Talk to an Experienced Divorce Attorney About Child Custody Arrangements in Massachusetts
There are two primary sets of decisions to be made on divorce. One is what to do about shared property and the other is what to do about parenting. These are often complicated decisions. While best made in a spirit of cooperation and common sense, they are often just too hard, especially if there has been a communication breakdown between the two spouses. This is when it makes sense to talk to an experienced divorce attorney who will have helped many parents with child custody planning before, including planning parenting time.
Courts are only too happy to agree to sensible well organized plans that they perceive are in the best interest of the children. If you need advice and legal representation in an upcoming divorce settlement, contact the Law Offices of Richard Mucci in Winchester MA for a free initial consultation.