Parenting Plan Tip:  Don’t forget to specify the summer parenting plan and schedule!

Parenting Plan Tip:  Don’t forget to specify the summer parenting plan and schedule!

Although kids may be rocking out to “school’s out for summer!” – often parents are not.  Determining a schedule for children during summer vacation and break from school can be stressful, especially for divorced or separated parents. Issues with coordinating summer vacation can be compounded when there are long-distance relatives, travel schedules, competing camps, and childcare issues are involved.  These issues can be challenging even for separated parents with good co-parenting relationships.

To prevent some of the stress involved with planning summer vacation, it is crucial to have a specific written plan. Children need to feel secure and be placed in a stable environment. Establishing parenting time for summer vacation will reduce anxiety for both the parents and children.  Older children, especially, benefit from a clear schedule known well in advance of the summer, especially if the plan incorporates how the children wish to spend their time. Children should have the opportunity to spend this special time with each parent and their extended families, in addition to participating in programs and activities available to them during the summer, such as camps or sports clinics.

Here are some tips:

  • Determine whether the school year access schedule will remain the same in the summer, or if the summer parenting time will be different.
  • Define when summer starts and when summer ends. This is especially important if the summer parenting time schedule is different than the school year parenting time schedule, or if there is a long distance parenting plan
  • Outline a method for parents selecting special vacation time. This should include how long each parent may take children on vacations, notification requirements, whether there are any travel restrictions, and transportation plans.
  • If child care is needed during the summer, anticipate how that will work and how the parents will agree upon child care options or camps.
  • If you have a long-distance parenting plan, then the non-custodial parent will likely have a bigger portion of the summer vacation. Transportation and communication procedures should be clearly spelled out.
  • Parents should try to maintain the traditions the children have enjoyed in previous years, especially in the breaks after a separation or divorce.  This may include allowing the children to spend time with extended family members, going to sleepaway camps, or participating in other specialty camps/clinics.

Often, high-conflict divorces and separations reach the boiling point when school break and holiday schedules are discussed.  Although it’s never too late to draft a firm parenting plan, there is tremendous benefit to starting the discussion early to ensure that a good parenting plan is in place before other arrangements are made.  When deciding how to spend time off with your kids, be specific and put their needs first.

Published by Leslie Satterlee:

Leslie Satterlee is a 3rd generation attorney who practices family law in Phoenix.  Leslie is the former chair of the Maricopa County Bar Association Family Law Section, she has been recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star, and she is a mother of two/T-Ball Coach.