What Divorcing Parents Must Do When Spring Break and Teenagers Mix

By Julia M. Garwood, CFLS, Attorney at Law, Garwood Family Law and Mediation

Spring BreakSpring break will be going on across the nation for the next month.  Various schools will be getting out for one to two weeks.  What do parents do when one parent wants to say “no” to their son or daughter’s wishes to go with their high school or college friends to vacation paradises in the United States, Caribbean or Mexico?  The answer is: It depends.

In California, the age of your teenager matters. In California, when your child reaches age 18, the parents really have no legal say. The child is considered an adult. In other jurisdictions, the age of emancipation may be different.

If the child is under the age of 18, what does the order say, whether it was by agreement or a court order?  You don’t have to follow it if the two of you as parents agree, but it is enforceable if one parent wants to allow their child to go on the trip and the other does not.  Complicating this matter may be the opinion of the child.  After all, you are dealing with a teenager.

Will the child be coming to you for the cost of the trip? If so, you can decide if you are going to shell out for the airfare, hotel and miscellaneous costs…. but don’t think these costs will be a replacement for any Court ordered child support if the age of your child dictates that the order is still in effect.

Hopefully, you and your ex-spouse can work out the issues so that everyone is satisfied. Advance planning is the key. Whether your son or daughter goes on the trip or not, a spring break for your child should always be something special, fun – and safe.