When summer is in full swing, the days get longer and (hopefully) sunnier. This is usually a good thing, right? However, summer often poses challenges to some co-parenting plans. Even those plans that addressed summer may no longer work.
Schedules may very well have changed. Vacations may throw schedules off kilter. Perhaps the children have summer camps or other full-day enrichment programs that were not included in the overall scheme. Similarly, a parent may be off work during the summer and want the children during days that would normally be “off weeks” in joint custody situations.
Here are a few points parents should consider when co-parenting in the summer.
Compromise should still be the goal
When you drafted the parenting plan, you probably followed a general rule of compromise and put the children’s interests first. That should still be in play even if you do not officially modify the plan. In other words, if your schoolteacher ex-spouse would like the children during the daytime when you are working, it might be a good idea to let that happen. In exchange, perhaps you could gain an extra week of vacation time with the children or get a few extra weekends. Or maybe not having to pay for daycare during those hours is sufficient reward.
Teens want independence
Many teenagers relish independence and freedom. One way they exhibit these needs is by asking to stay at one parent’s house when it is not that parent’s week. Such requests for connection may occur more often in the summer, especially if one parent has a particularly attractive feature such a pool or proximity to a group of friends. It is a good idea for parents to decide in advance how they will handle such issues.
Determine who pays for summer camps and lessons
A child may express a desire for music lessons or to go to a special summer camp. Parenting plans do not always cover such eventualities, so parents should work together to decide if one pays, if they go half and half, or if the child skips the experience. To maintain feelings of fairness, a parent who pays might ask for a small additional benefit.
If you are considering divorce or an official modification to an existing divorce agreement or parenting plan, an experienced family law attorney can help you cover many potential summertime situations.