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Spring Break Co-Parenting Guide: Practical Advice for 5 Common Scenarios

As with everything else in co-parenting, parents should communicate with each other openly, if possible. We understand that is not always as simple as it sounds. Spring break (and other vacations) co-parenting is just another piece to the collaborative parenting puzzle that may need to be addressed in the shared parenting plan.

In our experience, spring break co-parenting can become heated. In this blog, we have called out some common questions we get from our clients when it comes to getting away on that much needed vacation.

Scenario #1: You are planning a short getaway for yourself and your kids. It’s on your own time, and you’re curious if you really need to tell your ex that you’re leaving town.
100% yes. Even if you take the kids on vacation during your parenting time and plan to have them back before your ex’s begins, you still should let them know if you are leaving the area with the kids. If you don’t like the idea of your ex always knowing where you are going, just remember it is for the children’s safety in case there ever is an emergency.

Scenario #2: Your Spring Break plans spill over into your ex’s parenting time. Is this a problem?
Unless your specific shared parenting plan says otherwise, in Ohio both parents are entitled to take at least one vacation during the year with your children. Give your ex as much notice as possible. Let them know your plans will likely interfere with some of their designated parenting time. Like with any vacation, you should provide an itinerary to your ex to let them know where the children will be, what sort of activities they will be doing, and who they will be with, including emergency contact information. You’ll need to provide all of this to your ex before you go, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to plan accordingly.

Does this mean that vacation time takes precedent over regular parenting time?
This means you can take your vacation time with the kids even if it overlaps some of the other parent’s normal parenting time. Vacations generally will not take precedent over holiday time however, so if your ex is scheduled to have the children for the 4th of July this year, don’t plan on taking a vacation that conflicts with that time.

How much notice do you need to give your ex?
You should give your ex as much notice as possible when you plan a vacation with the kids. Keep in mind that you must give your ex at least as much notice as specified in your shared parenting plan, which could be something like two weeks, 30 days, or even more.

Scenario #3: Your extended family has a tradition of getting together every year for spring break. Now that you and your spouse are splitting up, you’re wondering if is it possible to have your kids every spring break?
It is possible for the shared parenting plan to allow for you to have the kids every spring break. The easiest way to have this arrangement would be to talk about it with your ex (or your lawyers) and see if you can come to an agreement. If you get the kids for every spring break, your ex will probably get the kids every year for a different break period such as winter break, or an extra week over the summer.

Scenario #4: You are planning a handful of vacations this year. Is there a limit to how many vacations you can take them on?
Technically there is not a limit on how many vacations you can take your kids on as long as you take them during your own parenting time, or you have an incredibly agreeable ex. However, for most people you will need to look to your shared parenting plan which should specify how many vacations you can take with the children per year. If you know that you will want to take a few each year, it’s best to have that incorporated into your agreement so no unnecessary future disputes arise.

Scenario #5: Your ex is pushing back on the vacation plans you’ve made, but can they prevent you from going on vacation with the kids?
Generally, your ex cannot prevent you from going on a vacation with the kids during the normal parenting time schedule. If, however, you both happen to have planned for a spring break vacation this year, that may cause some issues. Your shared parenting plan should specify who gets precedent in these situations, such as one parent gets priority in odd numbered years and the other in even numbered years.

Setting up a spring break co-parenting schedule that works for a set of parents who, by the way, don’t really get along anymore, can be a challenge. Understanding what is reasonable and legal takes the guidance of an experienced attorney. If you have a scenario that was not discussed here, or if you want to know more about one that was, contact us. We can help you.