Summer Visitation FAQs

These summer visitation FAQs can help you understand your rights concerning visitation during the summer months. Parenting plans generally address the issue, but problems still crop up as outlined by the questions below:

Summer Visitation FAQs

What if the divorce papers didn't specify vacation times?

Angie's Question: My sister has sole physical and legal custody. There is nothing in the divorce paper about vacation times. Her ex says he has first choice and is telling her she has to work around his vacation time. Also, when he takes the kids on vacation, he won't tell her where they are going and when she talks to the kids he will not let them tell her where they are. Is there anything she can do about this situation?

Brette's Answer: She could request that the order be modified to specify when each vacation will be and that each parent must notify the other of contact information and location for the trip in advance. It can also specify contact with the children while they are away.

Do the regular exchange times apply to summer visitation?

Teresa's Question: The joint custody paperwork reads I get alternating weekends and am to pick the kids up from school Friday afternoon and drop them off at school Monday morning. Our papers also say I get 4 weeks in the summer. Do I still get my Friday thruough Monday during the summer or just the 4 weeks?

Brette's Answer: If the order does not specify a change for summer, you would stick to the same schedule. Normally this means you get your 4 weeks, then the rest of the summer you get the regular schedule, unless your ex has some specific vacation time as well.

What if my work schedule makes summer visitation difficult?

Jo's Question: Brette, I am not the custodial parent. My divorce decree states I have visitation rights every other weekend, every other holiday and half of the summer. My work schedule does not always allow for me keep this schedule, and it is almost impossible to keep to the 1/2 summer. Am I obligated to keep this schedule? Also my ex is constantly badgering me for extra money...how can I get him to stop?

Brette's Answer: It sounds like you need to make some changes in your schedule. You can go to court or mediation to modify the plan so that it will work for you. If there is a child support order in place, your ex cannot require you to pay anything extra. If you are being harassed and it is truly becoming difficult to manage you could ask for a no contact order

Is he required to take the kids for the full 4 week in the summer?

Ivy's Question: My ex-son-in-law is entitled to have the children for 4 weeks during the summer. But, he is only taking them for 1 week; Monday thru Friday, plus his weekend. Can he do this?

Brette's Answer: He doesn't have to take them for any specific amount of time. No one can force a parent to take visitation.

Is it a violation if he waits until the weekend to drop her off?

Kristen's Question: I get my 6 year old daughter for summer vacations. It states in the court order, one week after school is over I get her. Now, my ex won't meet on the day that would be 1 week, he wants to drag it out until the weekend. And said who would pay his wages if he took a work day off to drive to drop her off? Is he in violation if he doesn't drop her off 1 week after school is out?

Brette's Answer: If that's what the order says, that's how it should be handled. Can't the exchange happen in the evening perhaps so it won't interfere with his work schedule?

Can the 4 week summer visitation period be split up?

Tiffany's Question: It says in our parenting plan that my ex gets up to 4 consecutive weeks for his summer visitation. Does that mean he has to take all four weeks together or can he split them up?

Brette's Answer: Consecutive means all in a row. However, if you want to agree to something other than that, you can.

Am I obligated to let the father have them for a whole vacation period?

Gloria's Question: If I have full custody of my kids, do I have the obligation of letting the father have them for a whole vacation period? Do I have to let them go or not?

Brette's Answer: It depends on what your court order says. If he has time with them as agreed, it is only if you agree. If specific times are ordered you are required to send them on those days.

Can he take the kids overseas for a month during the summer?

Simona's Question: Here is the situation. My ex-husband is spending a lot of his summer vacation in Eastern Europe and he wants to take our 13 year old twin daughters with him for about a month. They refuse to go for various reasons: language barrier, homesickness and missing me, fear of flying, plus they fear their father will take them away against their will. Can he force them to fly to east Europe and how can I stop him?

Brette's Answer: If the custody order does not give him specific rights to this much visitation time then he is not automatically entitled to it. You need to talk to your attorney about what the best approach is. You can wait for him to file papers or you can file seeking the court to enjoin him from taking them.

Is he entitled to more summer visitation to make up for missing holidays?

Simona's Question: Our children are 4 and 5 and my ex-husband requested spring break, full summer break, and Christmas on odd years. This last year he cancelled Christmas and he cancelled spring break. Now he wants to have an extra week in the summer but we had agreed on 4 weeks to start off with (which I still believe is to long for such young children). I try to work with him and want them to see their dad but I am also tired of him pushing us around. Am I wrong to not give him more weeks in the summer to make up for his canceled visits that he had requested for?

Brette's Answer: No, you are not wrong. If he can't use the time he has scheduled, it is his loss. If he wants to modify the agreement, he can file with the court. You should consider what is best for your children though. Would they like more time with him? If so, when would it work best?

He didn't request vacation time as directed in the visitation order.

Debra's Question: We have two daughters 17 & 11 and I have been compliant with visitation. However, he demanded to take them this month for vacation. The 17 year old is currently taking college classes during the summer and has exams next week. Our 11 year old says she will not go because she does not trust him; he lies, cusses, and drinks alcohol. He did not request the vacation as directed in the visitation policy (30 days prior to the commencement of the last day of school). Do they have to go with him on vacation?

Brette's Answer: No. If he didn't follow the process specified in the order, you're not obligated to send them. And the 17 year old would be able to say no regardless. Good luck.

Is email considered written notice for a visitation request?

A's Question: We are both allowed 14 days of summer vacation once per year and he is to provide 90 days written notice prior.The father only gave me 12 days notice by email saying "I want to take my first 7 day vacation on the first week of September"  Can I refuse to let him take our son on such short notice, and is email considered written notice?

Brette's Answer: An email is written notice, but if he is supposed to give 90 days notice and has not, it sounds like you can refuse.

Do the kids have to go for summer visitation if he won't be there?

Question: My ex-husband and I have a standard joint custody agreement. He works in the oilfield, so he's at a rig for about a month and then comes back to town for a few days. I have been working with him on visitation because he can't guarantee he'll be in town on his weekends. I thought we'd continue to do the same throughout the summer. But he told me that he was going to take the kids to his brother's house and his 13 year old niece would baby sit 5 kids. He would be working more than 300 miles away during this time, so he wouldn't even be with the kids. Is this something I can fight? I don't feel that any 13 year old can effectively care for 5 children, 4 of which are under 9 years old.

Brette's Answer: Visitation is for him, not a babysitter. If he won't be there, he doesn't get the time. And I agree that's too many kids for a young teen to be in charge of.

Is a long-distance move considered a change of circumstances?

Trisha's Question: My son is now ten and for the last 4 1/2 years, our custody arrangement has been he goes to dad's every other weekend and one night a week. The last two summers we have gone every other week. He just took a PERMANENT transfer to a city 5 hours away. He wants visitation to remain the same, and have my son stay with his wife even when he isn't there. Doesn't this warrant a "change of circumstance?"

Brette's Answer: Yes it does. You need to work out a new plan, perhaps two weeks at a time.

What if my ex won't comply with the summer visitation schedule?

Jeanine's Question: My ex is the custodial parent and I am non-custodial. With summer coming I advised him which time periods that I wanted to have the kids. He told me that they would be spending a majority of the summer with me because he needed a break and that if I brought the kids to his house that he would not be there. Is there anything I could tell him so that he understands that he needs to be there with the kids? What do I do if he is not there to take care of them?

Brette's Answer: You can file with the court for a violation. The problem is that if he doesn't want them and you don't want them, you've got a problem. Would you be able to agree to an expanded summer schedule that would have them spend more time with you? Maybe there are grandparents who would like to spend some time with the kids. Good luck

When Your Ex Doesn't Comply With the Visitation Schedule

Melissa's Question: Our divorce decree states that my ex gets the kids for 2 weeks out of every summer, but I have always been lenient since he's in the military and does not see them any other time during the rest of the year. This year I let them go for 4 weeks, and when I tried to ask him where we should meet to pick them up (he lives 5 states away) he said he was not going to let them come home for 3 more weeks! What can I do to get them back?

Brette's Answer: You can file a violation with the court that ordered the visitation. You could also contact the police or perhaps his commanding officer and show them the order which he has clearly violated.

Can I pick her up when it is my court-ordered time to have her?

Liz's Question: My ex-husband and I live in different states. Our daughter spends summers with him and the school year with me. I'm scheduled to pick her up in two weeks but he's saying he will not let her return home with me. My grandparents (who live near him) watch our daughter while he is at work. Is it considered kidnapping if I pick her up from my grandparents and return home when it is my court-ordered time to have her?

Brette's Answer: If the order specifically states when the child is to be with each parent, you likely are within your rights. However, I would suggest you talk to your attorney before you do anything to be certain your order is clear about this.

Can visitation be modified due to scheduled activities and sports?

Christina's Question: My son will be 11yrs old this June. His father lives in another state and his visitation allows him 6 weeks in the summer. He refuses to split he time up which makes it very difficult for my son to participate in various sporting camps/activities. This summer he has an opportunity to do an NBA camp, but his father is unwilling to work around it. Next year, my son will be in the 6th grad and playing school sports. Will his father be able to interfere with his sports schedule in the summer due to "visitation right" or can we have the visitation modified?

Brette's Answer: This is a good reason to ask for modification for this year and future years. You need to go back to court if he won't agree.

How Can I Convince My Child To Visit Her Father?

Margie's Question: My 14 year old is refusing to go to her father's house this summer. I know I can be held in contempt, but how do I force her on a plane?

Brette's Answer: Your situation is a common one. As I'm sure you've noticed teens can be a bit difficult sometimes! I would suggest you find out what about the plan your daughter doesn't like. Is she going to miss her friends? Does she not like going to her dad's house? Find out what the problem is. Then talk to your ex. Get him involved in solving this. What you don't want is for this to become a "you versus him" situation. Instead, it should be the two of you working with your daughter to find a solution. There may be a compromise that will keep everyone happy - such as your oldest only going for part of the summer. Work together as a family to find a solution.

What if she wants vacation with a friend during his summer visitation?

Elizabeth's Question: What can I do if my child wants to go vacation to see her friend in another state but it's during the summer when she has to go stay with her dad and he won't let her go?

Brette's Answer: You can talk to him and try to work it out or your other option is to go to court to ask the court to modify the order. Most courts will prioritize a parents' time over time with friends, unless this is a unique opportunity or there is some way to make up the time with him.

Can we vacation out of state if it doesn't interfere with visitation?

Mimi's Question: I have sole physical custody of our son and we have joint legal custody. Father has a visitation schedule. Am I allowed to take my child out of state for a vacation, if it does not interfere with visitation?

Brette's Answer: If your court order does not say you can't, then it shouldn't be a problem. It's always nice to notify the other parent as to where you're going. (Get more Post Divorce Vacation Pointers)

How is the regular visitation affected by vacation time?

Terese's Question: Would you please clarify something for me in the Custody Agreement entered? This past weekend was the Dad weekend. This week will be his vacation week from Wednesday to the following Wednesday. Normally it would have been Moms weekend next but they will be on vacation. Isn't it correct that following with the regular parenting schedule that it will then be Moms weekend when they return as it normally would have so he does not have three consecutive weekends in a row?

Brette's Answer: Generally, no. Vacation overrides the regular agreement. Once vacation is over you go back to the schedule. But you can certainly do it the other way if you both agree.

What if he only wants to take one of our kids for summer visitation?

Jill's Question: My ex is allowed to have 4 weeks of vacation with our children, ages 6 and 2. He often takes the 6 year old and leaves the 2 year behind (obviously, she is more demanding of his time and attention and I honestly believe this to be the reason he doesn't want her) He now wants to take a family vacation (with his parents, sister, and her 2 children) to the beach for a week. He has stated he will only be taking our 6 year old and not our 2 year old. I am opposed to splitting the kids like this. Can I refuse to allow him to pick and choose like this?

Brette's Answer: I agree with your feelings on this. He really needs to spend time with both kids and yes, 2 year olds are a handful, but the only way to continue a relationship is to spend time with her. Why not talk to him and point out he'll have his parents and his sister there to help, so it is an ideal time to have both kids. Lay on the guilt trip about how not only is he missing out, but the grandparents, cousins, etc. are missing out. If there is any chance you can talk to your former Mother-in-law, try that too. Is he worried about naps, sleeping arrangements, or the car ride? Find out what the problem is and then offer solutions. Can you refuse to allow him to take the 6 year old? Technically no you can't. He's entitled to the time. You can't force him to take the other child, but if you ended up back in court should you refuse to send the 6 year old he's going to look like a bad guy, but you risk being accused of custodial interference. Your best bet is to try to work this out somehow.

Should she have to quit breastfeeding due to summer visitation?

Missy's Question: My ex and I live in 2 different states. Our daughter is currently 5 months old and breastfeeding on demand. I work at home so we are never apart. Her father has never met her and has no experience with children. However, he wants to have her for summers starting when she is two. I have requested that he allow her to breastfeed as long as she desires (new recommendations say ideally at least until 2.5 years) and that they need to build their relationship gradually. He is accusing me of being unreasonable. Would a court decide she should go see a man she doesn't know so young and quit breastfeeding to do it?

Brette's Answer: Courts are protective of breastfeeding, but probably not to 2.5 years. Gradually building a relationship makes sense. Sending her to him for an entire summer when she is two is not typical, but I don't know what courts have ruled in your jurisdiction.

How do I handle summer visitation if he doesn't know his Dad?

Katy's Question: My son is almost 7 and his father hasn't seen him since he was a month old. Now his father has an interest in him. I want my son to see his father and father's side of the family, but they think they can have him for a whole two months over the summer. My son doesn't know these people. I will agree to a week to start off and maybe make it two weeks if it goes well. What is the average time for a summer vacation visitation? Is there a set time line or a guide? My child has NEVER been away from me for then 24hrs- what do I do?

Brette's Answer: You're approaching this the right way. Your child needs time to get to know these people and form a relationship. I would even think a week at first would be too long. I think he ought to meet them with you along - at a neutral place like a park or restaurant. Then spend a few hours with his father. Then escalate to a day, then eventually an overnight, then a weekend, then a week. It's going to take time and you don't want to rush your child into this. Their expectations are ridiculous and your gradual approach is the right one.

How do we handle summer visitation with our autistic son?

Callie's Question: My ex lives in another state and gets 4 week summer visits and 2 weeks every other Christmas. But he doesn't call our son in between visits as required in the divorce decree. My ex's mother didn't give my son his anti-anxiety meds when he was visiting them this last summer and didn't discuss it with me. Our son has autism and is 8 years old and I don't feel that that is a very positive environment for him. If he's not abiding by the parenting plan, do I have the right to not allow my son to go see his dad? I don't keep him from our son but after this summer visit with no contact in between, why should I just hand him over?

Brette's Answer: I agree it is not healthy for your son to have a 4 week visit each summer with nothing in between, particularly if he has autism. Your order specifies phone calls and he doesn't make them? I don't think the answer is to stop visitation though. There needs to be a way to maintain contact in between. You could go back to court and threaten to stop visitation, but instead have the intent to have the judge tell him he's got to make the phone calls. And there needs to be an order directing him to keep your son on his meds as well. » Return to top

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