Ask a Child Custody Attorneys New Jersey: Is a Vacation Schedule Important in Custody Cases?

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Ask a Child Custody Attorneys New Jersey: Is a Vacation Schedule Important in Custody Cases?

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 Non-custodial parents often ask if a vacation schedule is important in custody cases. Yes, vacation schedules are really important in custody cases and every custody agreement should contain a vacation schedule clause.

Why Does a Non-Custodial Parent Need a Vacation Schedule?

The non-custodial parent does not have physical custody of the child. The child predominantly lives with the other parent. The non-custodial parent has visitation rights or parenting time rights. These rights are usually exercised over the weekend or one or two days, coinciding with the non-custodial parent’s days off. Visitation or parenting time rights are not the same thing as vacation rights.

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If the non-custodial parent wishes to take the child on vacation, out of the state or country, permission needs to be granted by the custodial parent. This is also true when the custodial parent wishes to travel with the child out of state or the country. The main reason this requirement exists is to minimize instances of parental kidnapping (when one parent kidnaps the child in order to keep the other parent away from him or her).

A Legal and Physical Custody Determination is Not Enough

Both parents need to consent to the issuance of a passport, regardless of which parent has the physical or legal control. One parent may obtain the passport on his or her own, but visiting countries have their own rules on which children to admit. Many countries require a notarized affidavit or permission slip that the child can travel and stay in a foreign country with one parent and leave on a certain date and time with that same parent. The more specific the travel affidavit is, the less likely it would be subject to a deeper review at an immigration control checkpoint. At a minimum, dates of travel, mode of travel, and hotel or temporary residence are required. If all of that information matches, there will be no impediment on an entry for that circumstance.

I do Not Know if I can Afford a Vacation or Even When I can Take One

A vacation schedule can be as flexible as the non-custodial parent needs it to be. For example, it can state that the non-custodial parent will have the right to two weeks’ vacation time with the child every year during July and August. If the non-custodial parent will not use the vacation time year XXXX, he or she can notify the other parent by a certain date that the time will not be used. Every year, unless the non-custodial parent opts out, the non-custodial parent has two weeks’ vacation time with his or her son or daughter.

Ask Child Custody Lawyers: How Does a Child’s Wishes Factor into Custody Decisions?


Parents often ask if New Jersey permits a child to determine where he or she should live when the parents are in the middle of a divorce or seeking a change to an existing custody order. Physical custody (where the child lives) is different from legal custody (who makes decisions regarding the child’s well-being).

Physical Custody Standard in New Jersey

To grant one parent physical custody, courts in New Jersey conduct a review of the law in New Jersey, the best interests of the child standard, with the circumstances surrounding the relationship under review (parent one and child AND parent two and child AND parent one and two and child).

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To modify an existing custody order, New Jersey courts will re-examine the best interest of the child standard and review whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances that affects the child’s welfare since the entry of the last order. Only if something changes, will the court revisit its original custody determination?

What is the Role of the Child During Custody Determination Proceedings?

A child in a custody determination or modification proceeding is a witness. The child can testify and express his or her wishes in the custody dispute when old enough and mature enough to do so.

The judge alone can make a determination that the child is of “suitable age and discretion” and is therefore competent to testify. Considerations such as the child’s age, mental development and capacity, as well as bias are examined in depth. Practically, the older the child is, the more likely he or she will be deemed mature enough to testify.

A Child’s Express Wishes Alone is Not a Slam Dunk

Many judges do not like children testifying about any parent. It clearly puts the child at the center of the storm. The process itself is terrifying for adults, and for children, it can be much worse. Families that break up have one thing in common — no single family member has control. Parent one and parent two must behave consistently with the consensus decision or court order as well as the child. Someone else is always in the picture.

A child can testify in private, usually in the judge’s chambers, free of parents and lawyers, or in full-view of the court – on the stand with each parent lawyered up in the well. Each method has its pros and cons.

A child’s testimony that expresses temporary dissatisfaction with a parent or appears to be manipulated by one of the parents will carry less weight with the court when making decisions. The court looks at several factors and no single factor alone, such as the child’s wishes, is assigned all of the weight in the determination.

A family Attorney in New Jersey is Available to Help Your Family

The Divorce Attorneys in New Jersey at The Giro Law Firm help families with their contested and uncontested divorce and family law needs. Ask us how we help people resolve their concerns about child support, child custody, guardianship, spousal support, divorce, and modifications of marital agreements or divorce judgments. To request a consultation with a Divorce Attorney New Jersey, click here or call (201) 690-1642 today.


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