It’s summer: the season of long-awaited family reunions, relaxing vacations, and the fondest of memories. With the loss of the regular routine, however, comes added confusion and stress for custody agreements.
Even though court-mandated custody orders include summer guidelines, often they are vague and considerably more flexible. The final summer schedule, then, must be carefully navigated and planned by the co-parents.
Communicate Clearly About Planned Vacations and Events
Vacations are often a point of contention between some parents, as they often don’t fit perfectly into the predetermined schedule. If an important event or a vacation falls when the other parent is supposed to be with the child, make sure you communicate clearly and well in advance about these plans.
The co-parent does have the right to deny the request to take the child during their given time, so be sure to wait to book anything until you discuss it. However, disagreements can be avoided if the planning is done ahead of time.
Many judges advise the co-parents to maintain an online calendar together. The calendar contains, in writing, the dates of any future family events, tournaments, recitals, and vacations. This way, both parents are well aware of anything coming up for which the schedule may need to be altered.
Be Mindful of Seasonal Employment
Some parents pick up seasonal employment during the summer months. This can impact the typical summer custody schedule, as the working parent may have less availability, or have opposite hours than they have previously. In this instance, the co-parents need to communicate to either swap times, adjust visitation accordingly, or get extended family or child care involved.
Older teens often take on summer jobs, which add additional challenges to maintaining your regular routine. Whenever summer camps, jobs, or programs are brought into the equation, both parents should be in agreement and willing to make the necessary adjustments.
Talk To Your Kids
After a hectic school year, and especially after this particularly challenging one, your children might be desiring some downtime and freedom. Others look forward to the camps and programs they had been missing, or more time with friends.
Remember that summer is something children look forward to all year long, so be sure to include their input in your discussion of summer plans.
Get Everything In Writing
No matter what you decide, get everything in writing. Often, in the unpredictability of summer, plans shift. Solidifying those plans in writing helps to avoid those future parenting conflicts. They also provide a document for both parents to refer back to when needing to refresh themselves on the summer schedule.
Co-parenting in this season can be a major source of conflict. However, communicating your needs and wants clearly and planning ahead of time can alleviate added stress. If this continues to be a source of difficulty don’t hesitate to contact your family law attorney to assist in scheduling your summer with your children.