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Father confused about ambiguous summer vacation orders - trying for contempt against mother

Your Question:
First off there is a vistation schedule set up.50/50 joint legal custody with shared holidays and birthdays etc etc... Now here is the problem:Back in September mother took child out of town for "two weeks" stating that there was something in the parenting plan that allowed her to do so.Did not know at first that she took the child.Wanted child for my birthday (i was supposed to have the child half the day that day) but she would not return my call.Two days later was memorial day and i was again supposed to have the child for half that day.Called her and no one answered and she did not return my call.Two days after that i was supposed to pick the child up for my week.Hour before the time i was to get the child i recieve a call from her family member saying that i was not getting the child and that she took child for her "two weeks" and was allowed to due to the parenting plan and then hung up on me.I called my lawyer and they said that there was no such thing and to file contempt charges against her so i did.Now the other day i find out that she plans to take her "two weeks" here soon (she is waiting until my birthday comes around again and she is going to try and take child so i can't see him).We are currently still in court for her pulling this the last time.My question is:Should i let her take her "two weeks" (it states in the parenting plan that each parent my have child for two weeks during the summer for vacation)?I feel that she already took her two weeks so she should not be entitled to another two weeks this summer.I also think that we should wait until the judge rules on the case pending against her before she attempts to take her two weeks.What should i do?

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My Answer:

It sounds like you're confused about your own court orders, so it's tough for me to help you.

If the orders are vague as to when/how the two weeks can be taken, your contempt motion will fail.

If it's not clear how these "two weeks" work, I suggest you need to file a motion to clarify the orders regarding summer vacation.

At the same time, it sounds like you could have taken two weeks in 2005, per the mother's interpretation, so she's probably arguing that you waived your two weeks in 2005.

I think you're out of luck on what happened last year. You lost the two weeks, and she's going to get away with it.

But moving forward, I suggest that you write to the mother and/or her attorney to advise that the mother had priority selecting the two weeks in 2005; and hence it's only fair that you get to select first in 2006.

Now is the time to look at every aspect of your parenting plan and figure out what are the confusing or unclear clauses.

You can file a single motion to clarify orders, showing the confusion and conflict between parents that the unclear orders have created, and proposing a tightened up interpretation for the court to sign.

Don't try to rewrite the orders to benefit you. Just look at how a reasonable person would interpret something, and write it more clear.

E.g., for the summer vacation, "Each parent shall have two one-week periods of summer vacation with child(ren) to occur after the day of school dismissal for summer vacation and before the day that school reconvenes at the end of summer vacation. A vacation week shall not exceed 7 consecutive calendar days, including normal custodial time. In odd years, the mother shall select her vacation first. In even years, the father shall select his vacation first. The parent who selects first shall notify the other parent of vacation dates and times by April 30, and the parent who selects second shall notify the other parent of vacation dates and times by May 15. Neither parent shall plan summer vacation that interferes with holiday or special day (e.g., birthday) time during which this parenting plan outlines that the other parent is to spend with the child(ren)."

That's an example of a pretty tight summer vacation clause.

So, use her behavior as reason to clean up your orders, rather than go through the very difficult process of contempt.


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