School is almost out and summer vacation is just around the corner. While this is an exciting time for you and your children, divorced parents should know a few things about summer parenting time.
Many parents don’t realize that regular and holiday visitation is different from summer parenting time. Before summer arrives, there are several issues you should address to avoid unnecessary arguments with your former spouse.
Here are six frequently asked questions about summer parenting time and visitation.
When does summer parenting time start?
This is a common dilemma because many orders state that visitation begins from the period school releases. What about when school is not in session?
To make sure everyone is on the same page, you should have your decree specifically spell out a pickup time such as, “Visitation is to occur from the time school releases on Friday or 3:15 p.m. when school is not in session.”
You also need to be aware of the exact date that summer parenting time begins. For example, you might have been scheduled to have summer visitation starting on the last day of school, but what if snow days pushed back the day school lets out? You will need to refer to your court order and likely consult with your ex to clarify when your parenting time will actually start.
Usually, parenting plans will note which parent gets to pick their vacation first during each year, whether by odd or oven numbered years. To avoid arguments and confusion, it should also spell out the date the vacation should be chosen by.
Many arguments spring up because one parent will try to tack their vacation onto their regular visitation to maximize the amount of time they have with the child. It might be worth adding language to your order prohibiting this or else parents are free to extend visitation in numerous ways.
Unless otherwise noted, the parent planning the vacation can take a child anywhere.
Again, to avoid confrontations with your ex, it is best to be as detailed as possible with the language in your order regarding travel arrangements. Note specific dates, locations, and whether third parties can attend.
It is also wise to provide an itinerary to your ex of your planned vacation, assuming you are on amicable terms. Include the location of the child and a number where they can be reached in case of emergency.
If you are concerned that your ex is planning to abscond with your child while on vacation outside of the United States, you should include language in your order prohibiting out-of-country travel. International child abduction by one parent can be a serious danger for some families.
The general practice is that unless otherwise noted, the holiday schedule takes precedence over the regular placement schedule.
You will need to keep this in mind when selecting vacation dates because vacation selection should not infringe upon holiday visitation.
Summer holidays include Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. It may also include birthdays of either parent or the children.
Per our custody agreement, my kids stay with me over summer break. Do I still have to pay child support?
Most states’ laws do not have a provision for this in their child support laws.
If you know when you are divorcing that you are going to be an active parent in your child’s life, that would be the time to argue for a credit for child support during those months or argue for reduced child support based on the time you’ll be spending with your children.
My child wants me to sign them up for summer camp during my ex’s parenting time. Can I do that?
Many kids are active in summer camps and other extracurricular activities during the summer months. Unfortunately, this can lead to conflict when it intrudes on the other spouse’s parenting time.
To avoid this, it is a smart decision to include a provision in your addressing this situation. It should say something along the lines of, “One parent may not plan or schedule activities during the parenting time of the other parent without reasonable advance notice and consent of the other parent in writing.”
This way you will not need to change your parenting plan every time your child is enrolled in an activity as long as you and your ex spouse can follow the order without question.