5 Questions to Consider for Summer Parenting Time
Among the myriad of issues that are present during a dissolution action, provisions for minor children during summer vacation can sometimes be overlooked. Below is a list of five questions, that you and your spouse should consider in order to help ensure a smooth and stress free summer.
1. When, and for how long, is each parent entitled to vacation time with the children? 1 week? 2 weeks? Longer? Reagrdless of how many weeks may the weeks be consecutive? Who gets to decide and when?
Does one spouse have family that rents a place each summer for the first two weeks of August? Even if the intact family typically took part in this while the parties were married, once divorced one party may wish to take the children to a different location during that time. Therefore, it is important to establish guidelines for scheduling vacations each summer. You may wish to include that each parent shall be entitled to two non-consecutive, or consecutive, weeks of vacation with the children each summer. That is the easy part. But who gets to decide dates and by when? There is no right or wrong answer as long as it works for both parties. An example would be that in odd years the one spouse shall have first choice of weeks and shall let the other spouse know the summer vacation weeks by May 1 of that same year. If the spouse doesn’t and the other spouse books a place during a week or two the other spouse wanted then a change cannot be forced as long as the agreement spells it out.
2. Will each party provide the non-traveling parent with an itinerary, and if so, how much information must be provided?
There is a thin line between keeping the other parent informed, and one party’s right to privacy during their vacation time with the children. However, each parent is entitled to know the whereabouts of the children at any given time. That is why it is often helpful to set up boundaries and obligations early on. At a minimum you may decide that each parent traveling with the children must provide the following at least one-week before any travel occurs:
- Dates of travel;
- Location of accommodations;
- Flight schedule; and
- Telephone numbers where the children may be reached.
3. Will the children attend camp?
- If the answer is yes, you may want to discuss the following:
- How will you decide which camp the children will attend and for how long;
- Who will be responsible for pick up/drop offs?
- What impact, if any, will the camp schedule have on your regular parenting schedule?
- What impact, if any, will the camp schedule have on your vacation schedule?
4. What will the daily parenting schedule look like?
Most general parenting schedules can be easily tweaked to adjust for summer vacation schedules. For example, if one party typically drops the children off at school Monday morning, you may determine that said parent will now drop the children off at camp. If both parents work full time, you may need to discuss after camp care, and where and when the children will be picked up.
5. What about summer holidays? How will you divide summer holidays such as July 4th and Labor Day? Are these holidays important to you or your spouse or will you allow the regular parenting schedule to govern these days?
Summer vacation should be stress-free and spent with family and friends. By asking yourself and your spouse the questions listed above, you can stay organized and avoid last minute issues with your parenting plan. The attorneys at Bayer & Black, P.C. have years of experience with parenting plans and can help you draft a plan, or modify your existing plan, to suit the needs of your family.
Happy summer vacation from Bayer & Black, P.C.!