Legal Question in Family Law in Washington

My parenting plan states that:

"Each parent is entitled to 14 days of vacation each calendar year which may be exercised in the summer or school year provided the parties coordinate with the school if the vacation is to occur during the school year. Vacations that affect the other parent's residential time shall require 60 days written notice unless otherwise agreed to in writing by both parties. If the parents have a conflict with their desired vacations with the children, the father's schedule shall prevail in the even years and the mother's in odd years".

I'm trying to take the kids on vacation to Europe next summer and need to plan and book early since extended family members are also going. I gave 8 months notice. My ex admittedly has no existing plans but still wants to block the vacation. The vacation bidding process for his job is in January. His claim is that by the time he gets to bid, the only dates available may be the dates Iím requesting and then he wonít have vacation with the kids. Sounds reasonable, right? Except that in reality, he has been there 20+ years and with his seniority, is one of the first to put in his vacation time. He has had at least one week off per summer month for many years (in addition to time off outside of summer). I think it's safe to say that he will have vacation outside of the time I am requesting.

My question is: Can he block my vacation? The parenting plan does not say I need his approval. It says if there is a conflict his schedule prevails (but there isnít) and that I need to give at least 60 days notice (which I have).

Thanks in advance!

Asked on 11/19/13, 1:31 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Amir John Showrai The Pacific Law Firm, PLLC

In a situation such as yours, if you expect your ex to be contrary and purposely pick dates that conflict with your dates, the best thing to do is wait and give him 61-65 days notice, so that he can't do something contrary. On the other hand, then you risk him selecting times that conflict with your schedule anyway, although if he does not know your dates in advance, he would not have been able to conflict with your dates on purpose.

With such an important trip coming up, and assuming the trip cannot be put off a year, consider presenting him the option to allow his schedule to prevail the next two years in a row (one of which was already his to begin with), to make up for the lost year this year. It will even things out, and you get your trip.

As to your direct question, can he block your vacation, in effect, yes. If you cannot reschedule and he schedules vacation times at the same time as your trip, then this is a problem, and he is within his rights to do so. You are right, that you don't need his approval to schedule vacations, but that's not what he would be claiming anyway. He would simply say, and a judge would likely agree with him, that he is free to schedule trips anytime he wants during even years, even if he knows this will destroy your plans. Now your ex knows when you are going, so he will likely try to schedule his vacation during your time to make trouble for you if he can, assuming this is in his nature to behave this way. If he is reasonable, he may take you up on your option to give him the next two years (2015-16) in return for you having 2013-14 as your years to prevail in the event of a conflict.

The parenting plan is working exactly as written. You each give at least 60 days' notice, but just because there is no conflict on the day you notify him, does not mean your ex, if behaving badly, cannot try to create one out of thin air. Since it goes back and forth each year, there is supposed to be some incentive not to let this happen, but with vindictive parties, this is a pointless exercise. It turns the parenting plan into something that basically says each party gets to have a good time one summer and the other's plans will be ruined no matter how important or well planned or how much advance notice is given.

Best of luck,

Read more
Answered on 11/20/13, 11:17 am

Related Questions & Answers

More Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody and Adoption questions and answers in Washington