It’s important for divorcing parents to include a summer parenting schedule in their custody and visitation agreement. This can save everyone uncertainty, confusion and conflict when school is out for the year.
You may agree to deviate from the schedule because the kids have sports obligations, you have work commitments or a vacation opportunity presents itself that you want to take advantage of. However, you’ll have a plan in place that you can fall back on if one of you isn’t happy with the other’s proposed changes.
Even when you have a summer parenting plan, it’s bound to change somewhat each year as the kids get older. Therefore, it’s best to start talking about summer plans earlier rather than later.
If your kids are old enough to have a say in your summer plans or if they’re involved in summer activities of their own, you and your co-parent should talk with them about what they’d like to do.
If you want to go away with the kids for part of the summer, talk with your co-parent early if your plans conflict with their parenting time. You also want to be sure that you aren’t making the same plans (although the kids might not mind two separate weeks at the family lake house).
If your children are young enough to require full-time supervision, make sure that you have child care arrangements lined up. You likely addressed who is paying for that care or how the cost is being split in your child support agreement. If not, make sure you and your co-parent have that worked out. The same is true with payment for activities like day camps, tennis lessons, summer school and other activities in which you enroll your kids.
Summer vacation means a change to everyone’s schedule — sometimes just as you’re getting used to your “regular” custody schedule. The more you and your co-parent are able to work together to help things go smoothly, the more enjoyable the summer will be for everyone. If you determine that you need to make some modifications to your custody agreement before next summer, your family law attorney can help you.