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How To Take The Kids On Vacation When Your Ex is Crazy
What Does The Court Order Say?
Most parents are able to take their children on vacation without returning to court for permission. Exception: when the court order strictly dictates how far a child may go on vacation. Otherwise, give your ex a courtesy call and email with details and have a good time. Just be sure to return to town when you are supposed to.
Now, The Reality - When An Ex Freaks Out About Taking The Kids On Vacation
The reality is that some ex-spouses aren't rational when it comes to the children. For example, the court order may not limit travel. So, a child can get on a plane to Disneyland without the ex going crazy but if you mention that the plan is to get on a plane to visit Aunt Sue in Canada, they may go ballistic because that's outside of a geographical boundary... by say, uh, one mile... because Aunt Sue lives on the other side of Niagara Falls - the Canadian side. By this irrational thinking, it would be okay with the ex for the child to fly to New York to the United States' side of Niagara Falls, but it wouldn't be okay to fly ever so slightly farther to visit a family member, just across the boarder.
When the ex goes on a trip with the kids that I wouldn't be able to plan...
If At All Possible, Avoid Court and Still Travel With The Kids
It's just a vacation, right? So, let's be reasonable. Unless the ex has a bona fide reason to be concerned about your travel with the children, appeal to the logical side of his/her brain in advance, with plenty of notice given. You may not have to but why not avoid drama and have a stress free vacation with the kids instead?
- First, communicate in writing with dates and destinations.
- Second, find a way the ex and kids can still chat in a way that works for everyone or a combination of methods: email, facebook, video-messaging, text, skype, and/or phone calls. If one method doesn't work, try another one.
- Third, stick with the plan. Sure, things come up. So, don't chisel in stone your every moment of the day and draw up a minute-by-minute itinerary of the trip that you fax to the ex. Instead, hit the highlights.
- Last, if something changes at the last minute, send a quick text or email. For example, if the pipes burst in the hotel planned on, just send a quick update with the new lodging information.
Even When Planning Travel and Communicating It To The Ex...
... it may not go off smoothly.
I travel all over the world with my children and keep my ex informed. He likes the kids getting a world education but sometimes, he flips his noodle over something that is important to him but seems like nothing to me.
For example, recently, I stayed at a car campground that he "researched" on the internet but had never been to. Mind you, I have backpacked in dense woods and camped in many states alone with the children. They are seasoned campers and can set up a tent and campsite in under five minutes... But, based on the ex's research, he believed we were camping at a safe haven for drug runners! He was so upset, he wanted us to leave immediately. I almost laughed - but I didn't. After all, there were plenty of suburbanites camping there, too. The ranger drove through nightly and checked on everyone. We were literally five minutes from town. But, instead of shutting down my ex as "being nuts over nothing" I listened and we talked it over. I assured him (and assured him) that everyone and everything was okay... and it was. So, the same fellow that thinks it's just fine that I traipse about New York City (a truly scary place) with my innocent lambs, thinks I'm in danger on the crest of a beautiful mountaintop campground with nothing more threatening than a wicked squirrel trying to steal my food. Hmmm... well, I like to think I deftly handled that situation, by respecting his feelings and addressing his concerns, even if they were completely unfounded.
When All Else Fails, Sadly It's Time to Go To Court
If things get a little too crazy and things have turned from concern to harassment, when all you want to do is take the kids to a visit to Grandma's (despite that, yes, she was evil to your ex), it's time to go to court to put things in writing so the stress can be avoided in the future. It's unfortunate when it has to come to this because judges have better things to do with their time and want parents to work it out themselves but sometimes, getting the court's seal of approval is better than duking it out privately with the ex over a trip only a few hours away.
Is Jealousy The Culprit?
The bottom line is that the ex may not be in a position to take the kids on the kind of trip you are able to plan for them for a variety of reasons. This may result in the ex feeling jealousy - or even wanting to stop you from going! Honestly, I would feel a little jealous if my ex took our kids on a trip I wasn't able to plan for them - but not enough to make a big deal or stop them. After all, I want my kids to have the best childhood possible and if my ex can make a part of their childhood awesome, I want that for them - yes... even if it comes from my ex. Unless there is a real safety concern, there is no reason to let the feeling stop the kids from enjoying a happy moment in their young lives. If it's possible, arrange a time for a frank talk with the ex about these feelings. Maybe by talking things over, airing things out, everyone will end the talk feeling better for having shared their feelings.
The Most Important Things To Know When Working Out With the Ex a Vacation With The Kids
- Confirm the court order does not have limits to travel.
- Communication is key! Do it - even if you don't "have" to.
- Be prepared to reassure your ex. Be respectful. Just because it's not a big deal to you doesn't mean it's not a big deal to your ex. Try to treat your ex the way you would like to be treated if the situation were reversed.
- If all else fails, let the judge make the call. Then, you'll avoid future stress with clearly defined guidelines.