Summer will be here before you know it. Have you taken time to consider how your children’s summer vacation will affect your custody/visitation plan? Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when making those summer plans.
- Review your custody/visitation order (parenting plan). Sometimes we remember things incorrectly; make sure your memory is correct regarding how visitation is different during the summer. For example, what kind of notice do you need to give the other parent if you are going to travel? Do drop-off and pick-up times change during summer break?
- Make a wish list. What would you like to do with your kids this summer? What would you like them to be doing when they are not with you (because you’re working/traveling or they are with their other parent)? Is summer school necessary? Camps? Time with grandparents? Tentatively plan your trips weeks, if not months, in advance. Are certain dates required (e.g., family reunion, sports camp) or are the dates flexible?
- Have a discussion with your co-parent about summer vacation. Let him/her know what your wishes are (e.g., you’d like to have the kids to attend a specific day camp for several weeks). Discuss the children’s needs as well (e.g., son must be tutored in math in preparation for next school year). Present your ideas as suggestions, not demands. Be sure to ask the co-parent what his/her wishes and perceived needs are as well. (other communication tips? Maybe a link)
- After conferring with your co-parent, write down the summer schedule. Include exact dates of travel and basic travel information as appropriate (e.g., June 18th fly to Michigan to see grandparents; return flight on June 25th). Share this schedule with your co-parent and revise if necessary. Share a final schedule via email clearly stating that this is the agreed upon schedule and/or print the schedule and each of you sign it.
- If it is not easy to agree or communicate with your co-parent, follow the custody/visitation order exactly and provide information regarding the children’s schedule while they are in your care. Also, if you are the custodial parent, inform you co-parent about other summer activities as soon as possible so he/she can make plans accordingly. For example, if your child will be attending a music camp and will be performing on the last day, you can let her other parent know so he/she can plan to attend if possible.
- Manage your children’s expectations. Once confirmed, share your summer plans with your children. Children feel much more secure and safe when they know what will be happening. Summer vacation is typically less predictable than the academic year, so let them know what they will be doing. Present the plans as an opportunity, even an adventure if it includes traveling or trying something new. Focus on the positive. If you resent the time your child spends with his other parent, your child will feel like he’s betraying you if he looks forward to spending time with his other parent.
- Give your child and co-parent some space. Don’t drill (or debrief) your child when she returns from time with her other parent. Listen to her relate her experiences when she’s ready to share; show interest without judgment so she is comfortable sharing with you.
- Try to be flexible. Summer brings unanticipated opportunities for fun—an invitation to spend a day at the beach with friends, free tickets to Disneyland. And, of course, summer might also bring a summer cold or sprained ankle. Such surprises might call for a revision of the summer schedule so your child can still participate in the family vacation or other planned events.
Family Law Firm in Long Beach, Ca
The divorce lawyers at Shoreline Legal Group, LLP have experience in creating parenting plans and modifying custody orders. We offer affordable attorney services at fixed fee rates by “unbundling” our legal services. If you have any questions regarding divorce, custody, or visitation, call us at (562) 449-4665. Serving Long Beach, Cerritos, Santa Ana, and Orange, CA as well as surrounding areas.