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Summer Parenting Plans: Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you are currently considering child custody arrangements for the first time, or are re-evaluating a child custody plan previously ordered by the court, it is a good idea to consider summer parenting time as a separate topic.

For most families, summer months bring additional free time – and additional challenges for parents.  Below please find some frequently asked questions about summer child custody.  As with most things post-divorce, there is no one right way to handle summer custody arrangements.  Summer child custody is best done in the manner that best suits you and your family.

How Does One Define “Summer” for Summer Custody?

While technically, summer begins June 21, summer custody can be defined a few different ways.  If the children are not yet in school, “summer” may be best defined as starting the Friday of Memorial Day, and ending on the Monday of the Labor Day weekend.  Once the children are in school, their school schedule may be the best guide for determining the summer parenting schedule.

My Ex Gets the Kids for Four Weeks in the Summer – Can I Get Visitation?

The answer to this question is, “It depends.”  was this anticipated in the divorce decree?  If you haven’t yet filed for divorce, what can the two of you agree on?  Additionally, of course, practical considerations also impact this.  For example, if you have the bulk of the parenting responsibilities during the school year, and your ex has visitation on Tuesday nights and every other weekend, it makes sense for you to adopt a similar schedule while the kids are with your ex for those four weeks.  Of course, if your ex is planning on taking them on a four-week road trip across the country, this sort of visitation schedule will not work.  Similarly, if your ex lives in Alaska and you live in the DMV, unless you plan on flying to Juneau, you probably won’t be seeing your children during this time.

Does Visitation Change When We Send Our Child to Sleep Away Camp?

It certainly can.  If you are on an every-other week schedule, for example, and the child is gone for one week, depending on the age of the child, it may make sense to modify the schedule.  This can be done with an eye towards making sure the child has time to reconnect with each parent after time away.

What About Other Summer Activities?

Summer activities can be a great way to fill a child’s time in the summer months.  Summer activities also provide children with new and enriching experiences.  Before you sign your child up for summer activities, however, it is a good idea to determine ground rules.  Will you be solely responsible for getting the children to these activities?  Or will your ex take on the same role when they have custody?  Particularly if your ex has the children for extended periods of time, it is a good idea to consult with them before signing the children up for activities.

I Want To Take My Kids on a Week Long Vacation.  However, Our Decree Grants One Night Visitation During the Week.  What Can I Do?

In a perfect world, if you want to take your kids on a week-long vacation during the summer, and your divorce decree currently calls for one night with your ex during the week, all you have to do is pick up the phone and ask for a trade of some kind.  While most parents are reluctant to give up parenting time, many parents will agree to a negotiated alternate schedule.

Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world.  You may need to reconsider how you define a week long vacation.  Typically, a week vacation goes Friday to Friday, or Sunday to Sunday.  However, you may consider a Wednesday evening to next Wednesday morning vacation to accommodate the middle of the week visitation.

My Family Has a Reunion Every Year in Pennsylvania.  The Trip Takes About Ten Days.  Can I Work This into My Divorce Decree?

Yes!  Any time you know in advance there is a longstanding family commitment, it can certainly be written into the child custody schedule.  Whether it is a reunion in another state, or a regularly scheduled week at the beach, when you know when it will be, let your lawyer know.  In fact, for long standing family time traditions, couples are encouraged to include this time in the divorce decree.  Ideally, couples remain able to work together for the best interests of their children.  However, whenever special parenting time can be reduced to writing in a court order due to the certainty of the event, it is best to do so.

What If I Know I Want to Take My Kids on Vacation But Don’t Know When?

There are a number of ways to handle this situation.  Couples may set up a “vacation request schedule.”  This can be incorporated in the divorce decree.  Basically, a vacation request schedule allows both parents to submit to the other parent a proposed vacation schedule.  Typically, the proposal is submitted to the other parent in writing to avoid misunderstandings.  It is also typically “due” by a certain date – say, May 15, for example.

If You Are Considering a Divorce.

If you are considering a divorce and you have children, creating a parenting plan in the best interests of the children is essential.  At Fait & DiLima, our attorneys apply their extensive experience in family law to the unique facts and circumstances of each case.  Whether you believe your divorce will be straight forward, or complicated, we can assist you in calming the storm.  Contact us today for a consultation.

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