Summer is the time to have fun in the sun, take vacations and generally try to relax. But for divorced and separated parents, Summer often brings its own unique set of challenges. With the kids out of school, a variety of complications may arise from agreeing to allowing the children to participate in sports, music, religious camps, to finding child care while a parent has to work, to negotiating time for extended vacations, and everything in between.
Below are some tips that are often used in many court-ordered Parenting Plans to help parents and children deal with issues that frequently arise in the Summer time.
Different School Year and Summer Schedules
During the Summer, the change in your children’s schedule may also reflect a change in your own or in that of the other parent. Some people work different hours during the Summer, while others enjoy substantial time off, such as educators. Depending on your family's situation, you may need to establish an alternative custody schedule with your co-parent to accommodate any Summer time changes. Perhaps it may be helpful to have a shared parenting arrangement, such as a week-on / week-off schedule in the Summer time. Or if there is a disparity in the vacation time each of the parents gets from their employers, perhaps providing child care, while the other parent works during the Summer may be beneficial to everyone, particularly the children. Addressing a Summer time residential schedule specific to your family's needs is important when establishing a Parenting Plan.
Today's kids are SUPER BUSY with sports and extracurricular activities! Often specialized camps are offered in the Summer time. With that in mind, if the parents share in joint decision making for things such as, education or non-emergency health care (as is often the case), they should also have joint decision making with regard to sports, extracurricular activities and Summer camps. In doing so, both parents can share in the responsibility and involvement in these special events for the children.
There are a few simple tips to avoid scheduling problems when it comes to Summer vacations. First, each parent should have a set date (i.e., April 30) every year when they have to provide, in writing, their vacation schedule to the other parent. In the event that there is some overlap in proposed vacation dates between the parents, the Parenting Plan should have an equal priority system. (i.e., in the case of Vacation schedule conflict, Mother has priority in Even Numbered Years, Father has priority in Odd Numbered Years). Often during the Summer, parents will try to schedule their vacation around the Fourth of July holiday. As such, it is helpful to have that holiday mirror the priority system; so if the Mother has priority on scheduling in Even-Numbered Years, she will also get the Fourth of July holiday in Even Numbered Years, and vice versa for the Father. This will undoubtedly help to minimize disputes between the parties. Finally, when it comes to vacations, some Parenting Plans will require that the vacationing parent provide some sort of itinerary to the other parent. Even if not required by the Parenting Plan, doing so can often assist in promoting the co-parenting relationship.
When Summer rolls around, gone are the day-to-day routines of the school year. It is important to be open and flexible with the other parent to make certain that the children get the most out of their Summer vacation. Being rigid or unwilling to compromise with the other parent, no matter how toxic your relationship with that other parent may be, does not help the kids at all. They should be able to enjoy their time off from school with BOTH parents. So no matter how amicable or how hostile your relationship may be with the other parent, thoughtful and purposeful communication regarding your children's Summer schedule is key.
Family law litigation can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. We have years of experience helping our clients with the establishment, enforcement and modification of Parenting Plans and many other aspects of Family Law Litigation. Contact us today at (253) 838–3377 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to discuss about your situation.
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