Every year in March and April my office is inundated with calls from people who are separated or going through a divorce - many of whom are not even my clients- because tensions are high over Spring Break angst - either mom or dad wants to take the kids on vacation (or even a "stay-cation") over spring break and the other parent says "No Way!". Or maybe both parents have made plans for Spring Break ... what should you do?
First of all, realize that once your divorce is final, you never have to have this fight again. Your divorce decree will specify exactly who gets the children on which holidays, including spring break and winter vacation. Assuming that you and your spouse did not enter into any kind of temporary agreement about spring break parenting time, the sooner you can resolve the issue the better, ideally before it becomes an issue. Autumn is usually a good time to negotiate winter break and spring break, perhaps alternating, at least until the divorce is final and all issues have been hashed out.
If you are not planning on taking your child for spring break and you're the parent who is trying to put the kabash on the other parent's plans - I urge you to let your child have fun with the other parent if the alternative is staying in your home just passing time or going to a babysitter while you are at work. Dig deep into your heart and ask yourself if you are just trying to punish the other parent or if you have a legitimate concern - of which there could be many. If your concern is legitimate- such as fear that your child will not be returned or the other person's use of alcohol around the kids- listen to your gut and discuss it with your attorney. If you don't know where your child will be- you absolutely have the right to be given a specific itinerary and a way to call your child over break. No parent wants to wonder where their child is. Talk to the other parent and see if there is a way to work it out in a way that you feel comfortable with. But if your spouse wants to take the kids to, say Disneyland and is willing to pay for it and you just don't want to allow it to "get back" at him or her- then I say stop being selfish because in the end you are hurting your child. Remember too, if you take the high road and allow it, your spouse might remember it the next time you want something.
If your spouse is the one being selfish, hopefully they will come to realize this or will have someone tell them to get over it and stop being ridiculous. If there is time and if you are willing to spend the money, you may need to go to court depending on what Orders are already in place, what your plans are, and if you are trying to take the kids outside of Illinois.
More problematic are when both parents want to take the children on vacation during the same week. Discuss it in advance! Depending on the age of the children, do you think they have a preference? Spring Break parenting time might also be a topic suitable for mediation, at a lower cost than having to go to court which I guarantee will be more expensive than the airfare to Disneyworld!