Summer break should be a time of fun and relaxation for your children. Unfortunately, disruption to the traditional routine can often set off disputes about summer visitation and other child custody arrangements. By being aware of potential summertime custody issues and planning accordingly, you can ensure that your child gets the memorable summer break they deserve.
Not Discussing Summer Plans Ahead of Time
Preparation and communication are key in ensuring that visits and trips go smoothly without conflict. Be sure to check whether your Parenting Plan has specific guidelines for vacations and breaks, and if not, discuss the situation with your co-parent. Sometimes these discussions can be done in person, but if in doubt communicate via email to ensure you have written confirmation of plans.
Some parents do not see a problem with making last-minute plans. While spontaneity is good for some things, anything that disrupts the established visitation schedule requires planning. Avoid last-minute plans as much as possible and do not involve the child in the discussions regarding any change of plans. If your co-parent has visitation rights for the weekend, but you have the weekend off and want to take the kids camping, then the existing schedule takes priority.
Finally, if you plan to take a trip out of the state or country, there is generally a provision in your Parenting Plan regarding providing written notice to the other parent of your plans. If you do not follow the terms of your Parenting Plan or make unilateral decisions regarding travel, you may be accused of violating a court order or worse of parental kidnapping. Make sure you have written proof of your intentions to prevent miscommunication and undue stress.
Not Taking Your Child’s Needs Into Consideration
When determining a Parenting Plan for summertime timesharing and vacations the main priority is your child and their needs. If you prioritize a child’s needs such as letting them stay longer on a road trip with their other parent or not forcing them to go on a work trip your child will benefit from the flexibility.
Failing To Negotiate Summer Expenses
Often times parents are still working in the summer when the children do not have school. Many parents use camps and other summer extracurricular activities as work-related childcare. In most areas, work-related childcare is an expense shared between the parents either equally or by their percentage of income. Unfortunately, parents often assume that the other parent will pay for the child during their visitation time. This is another discussion you should have in advance of registering the child for any activities and expecting the other parent to contribute to the cost.
Try to work together on a summertime budget with some wiggle room for emergencies. You can then use this budget to negotiate with the other parent for a fair division on summer expenses that aligns with the rest of your established Parenting Plan.
Not Consulting Your Attorney
Planning and communication are vital in ensuring you, your co-parent, and your children have a smooth and enjoyable summer. Unfortunately, physical custody and visitation rights disputes can make drawing up a summer plan challenging, especially if you and the child’s other parent are not on the best of terms.
Consider consulting your attorney while planning your summer vacation. They can help you design a plan that takes your situation and goals into account and mediate a solution that works for everyone.
Batley Family Law offers custody and timesharing support and uses a multi-disciplinary approach to determine the best resolution while keeping the children’s best interests in mind. Contact an attorney to discover how we can help you.