Most parents with a court-mandated custody and visitation order are provided with both summertime and school-year guidelines. Summer schedule guidelines can be much less specific, often leaving parents to determine how the child will spend their summer weeks. For co-parents of children subject to a court-ordered custody and visitation arrangement, summer months often upend schedules and routines.
Families eager to take out-of-state vacations, spend holidays with kids, or schedule mid-week overnight visits with friends are often outside the confines of the legally mandated plan.
Travel & Vacations: Out-of-jurisdiction travel
A common issue between co-parents is what to do when one parent wants to take the child on a summer vacation, particularly, out-of-state or for an unusual amount of time. Unless the parent is due for an uninterrupted visitation week with the child, you must seek consent from the other parent before taking the child out of state or out of country.
Technically, taking a child out of jurisdiction without consent from the other parent could amount to parental kidnapping under applicable federal statutes. It’s critical that you get consent, in writing, from your co-parent.
Child Support: Child custody can affect child support
In some cases, parents’ child support situations may change during summer months due to the payor parent’s increased time with the child. It’s important to understand your specific divorce and/or custody agreement and your particular child support order. A qualified attorney, your local county or state office can provide details about your situation.
Seasonal Employment: Finding a balance
A co-parent with seasonal employment, such as a parent working as a bartender, lifeguard or within the tourist industry, may be faced with additional scheduling challenges in the summer months. In this situation, it may be helpful for parents to coordinate with extended family members or additional childcare providers. If the experience too complex, it may be time to petition the court for a more specific court order to address specific summer schedules.
Communication is Key: Checklist of important items to discuss in advance
- When Does Summer Parenting Time Begin? What does your order say? Does that match up with expectations of both co-parents, school and extracurricular calendar needs?
- Do I Pay Child Support During Summer Parenting Time?
- Who Is Responsible For Transportation During Summer Parenting Time?
- Are there any travel and/or vacation plans?
- Is the child(ren) older? Should you involve the child in some of the decisions?
Enjoy Summer: Remember what it’s like to be a child
Detailed, upfront communication is paramount for a successful summer. Planning is necessary. Remember to create a balance for your child, for you, and even for your co-parent. Summer months can provide additional time with your children, a much needed break, and opportunities for creating wonderful memories.
Be flexible. You need to be prepared to handle unexpected situations as calmly and politely as possible when co-parenting during the summer. Flexibility ensures you maintain the schedule as best you can, without your rigidity becoming detrimental to your children.
Do not compete with your co-parent. You may be tempted to compete with your co-parent; overtly or covertly. You may have the financial means to plan a lavish summer vacation. You may be able to pay for a better camp, or you may be willing to hand over more money for Kings Island, movies, shopping, dining, etc. If you have the impulse to compete, rein it in. The best summer memories are not created by money or material objects. Your children will benefit most from quality time with both of their parents over the summer.
A qualified family law or divorce attorney can help ease tensions and answer your questions. Please call our office at (513) 241-6650 for a free initial consultation. We are here for your family.
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