Vacations Create Complications, Opportunities for Ex-Spouses


  • A vacation can sometimes be a last-ditch effort in saving a marriage.
  • After a divorce, vacations can be complicated in fitting into custody schedules.
  • Many couples vacation with ex-spouse's to avoid complications or conflicts.

"The idea that a vacation will fix all of the problems in any given relationship creates additional problems for the individuals involved in the relationship"

On top of the stresses of work, life, finances, and children, divorce can add an unparalleled burden of mental anguish that can create the sudden urge to get away from it all for a time. The urge to run permanently is immediately squashed by the realities that limited funds and infinite responsibilities offer.

We, as a society, look to vacations to help us recharge and refocus during stressful moments in our lives, and during a divorce, the thought of a vacation can feel like a light at the very end of a long dark tunnel. As much as it sounds like the beginning of the film, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” it’s not even always about the break-up, so much as doing something for yourself. This act of self-therapy can often be exactly what one needs, in order to move forward in their life. However, the time for a vacation also can be used to spring-board the divorce forward.

On the calendar

According to studies at the University of Washington, divorce filings tend to follow an annual schedule of family holidays, which is governed by a ‘social clock’ that mandates the observations of birthdays, holidays, vacations, and other special transitions.

The data of the study suggests that before children begin school in August and after possible family vacations, divorce filings increase. The data also suggests a spike in March, and given Spring Break vacations being as prevalent as they are, that’s not overly surprising. Paired with the tendency of suicide rates to rise in the spring, the need to make future decisions greatly increases, as well.

Holidays and vacations are not always the source of rest and relaxation that people hope for, either. There’s a certain sense of expectations that the experience of a vacation will be therapeutic, help cure the stresses of life, and help springboard future success. The reality is that the experience of a vacation can reveal the cracks of a broken relationship, forcing individuals to take action in their own lives.

The cultural symbolism involved in vacations puts a lot of pressure on the individuals in a relationship. For some, the getaway is a last-ditch effort to save a marriage. For others, it’s one last hurrah. The idea that a vacation will fix all of the problems in any given relationship creates additional problems for the individuals involved in the relationship. However, for those that have already made the decision to divorce, they are facing a separate set of problems.

Children and co-existing

Planning a vacation after going through a divorce can be tricky. Given the division of income, funding for any possible getaway can be difficult, and if there are children involved, the scheduling can create separate problems that could have legal ramifications, if not addressed.

First of all, the time would have to be negotiated between the ex-spouses, if it is not already addressed in your divorce decree. This time also cannot affect the observation of holiday or birthday visitation, unless otherwise agreed upon.

Keeping communication open among ex-spouses is key in this situation, in order to eliminate any surprises. Some ex-spouses even choose to go on vacation with one another, setting aside any animosity or awkwardness, and it can save both ex-spouses a considerable amount of money, especially given Disney’s stance on divorce and Vacation Points.

When it comes to the children, supervising and entertaining them during a getaway can be less stressful with at least two parents present, and even if an ex-spouse has remarried, the more adults present will allow more supervision and parenting by all of the adults present in their lives.

The willingness of this scenario is entirely dependent on ex-spouses and their ability to be amicable. There also are risks involved in engaging in a vacation with an ex-spouse. Children can often find themselves fantasizing about their parents getting back together, so it’s important to remind them that this is a special set of circumstances bringing the parents together, in order to be with their child or children.

There are many children who would testify that they feel more relaxed now that their parents are no longer together, and when it comes to vacations, spending time with both of their parents without the pressures of a dysfunctional relationship bringing everyone down can create a light mood and promote the level of communication needed when dealing with parenting and custody issues in the future.

To go or not to go?

For those without children, finding places to vacation after a divorce can lead to making a decision that can impact your financial future. You can either save money by vacationing in a way that will save you the most amount of money possible, or you can treat yourself to an expensive vacation and potentially risk your already-divided financial future.

At the end of the day, you have to decide what decision is best for you.

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