Vacations and Parenting Plans

Vacations can be a very good opportunity for co-parents to spend time and bond with their child. The only problem is that vacations can be a very difficult thing to plan around your defined parenting plan. Vacations and parenting plans often conflict with one another, which is why it is very important for co-parents to set up certain rules regarding vacations that will be defined in their parenting plan.

Defining vacations in your parenting plan

Defining how vacation time will be handled is only a very small part of what should go into an appropriate parenting plan, but it’s also a very important part.

While discussing the details of your parenting plan with your co-parent, it’s important to spend an adequate amount of time on how you will treat vacation time. Most co-parents are often able to come to the agreement that vacation schedules should take precedence over regularly scheduled parenting time. This means that if a child is regularly scheduled to be with one co-parent from December 24 through December 25, but the other parent has been chosen to have custody over Christmas break, the child will spend Christmas with that parent due to the precedence that the vacation takes over the regular custody schedule.

When vacation time is given precedence over the regular custody schedule, it is important to ensure that both co-parents have equal vacation time with their child.

Before co-parents are able to split up vacation times they must first define all of the vacation time that will occur throughout the year. The easiest way to do this is to make a list of all of the vacation time that the child will have throughout the year and then split them equally between co-parents.

This method uses fixed dates, meaning that the vacation dates that each parent receives will already be predetermined within the parenting plan.

Another method of splitting up vacation time between co-parents is to use flexible dates. The idea behind this method is that each co-parent will receive a predetermined amount of vacation time for the whole year that they can use at any time. For instance, each co-parent may be given three weeks of vacation time for the whole year. In this example, one co-parent may choose to use their three weeks to take the child on vacation during the summer months, while the other co-parent may choose to use their three weeks over the winter months during holiday breaks.

Avoiding conflict when planning a vacation

Vacations and parenting plans have been known to cause a lot of conflict between co-parents, mainly due to a lack of communication. When planning a vacation with your child, make sure to keep your co-parent in the loop regarding your plans. This includes letting your co-parent know about travel dates, where you will be staying, contact information, and anything else related to your travel plans.

Be sure to include a clause in your parenting plan about how you will communicate the details of your travel plans with your co-parent. Proper planning and communication with your co-parent regarding a vacation will help to reduce any conflict that might occur.

Vacations on your shared parenting calendar

In order to avoid conflict that can stem from miscommunication, parents should always keep their shared parenting calendar updated with all holiday and travel plans. 

OurFamilyWizard can help families stay on top of their parenting and vacation schedules with ease. The OurFamilyWizard Calendar gives parents the ability to document their normal parenting schedules, while also including a separate vacation schedule that will be given precedence. For more information on how you can quickly and easily collaborate your vacations and parenting plan please visit our Custody Calendar Features page.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.