The start of summer can be a joyous occasion for many—the warm weather heralds the start of vacations, as well as summer break for children. Unfortunately, the start of summer vacations can be particularly aggravating for divorced parents. The issue of vacations and breaks are a perennial issue between some contentious divorced parents, as one parent seeks to deny or limit the other parent’s vacation with their children. The problem is especially difficult if international travel is involved.
In a decision issued on June 17th, the Hon. Lawrence Jones, J.S.C., dealt with such matters in the context of a mother’s proposed trip to Holland with the parties’ son to visit his maternal grandparents. The mother wanted the child to stay with his grandparents for an additional seven weeks after their two-week vacation, which would have deprived the father of summer parenting time. Unsurprisingly, the father objected, but in doing so sought to bar the two-week vacation on the basis that his ex-wife posed a flight risk. When presented with these troubled facts, Judge Jones found both parties positions to be unreasonable and allowed the two-week vacation, but, however, denied the additional seven weeks sought by the mother.
The court then had to deal with the father’s refusal to sign U.S. State Department form DS-3053 (the child’s passport application) and, while acknowledging that it could not force him to sign the form, granted the mother’s request for power of attorney to apply for the passport without the father’s consent. This thereby allowed the mother to take her son on the international vacation, but with the understanding that afterward he would return to the U.S. for the rest of his summer break.
Although the above facts were unique, Judge Jones’ decision squarely addressed the troublesome area of summer vacation time and highlighted the court’s inherent equity power to achieve a fair result.