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The challenge of summer co-parenting

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Summer can be the most challenging time for separated or divorced parents sharing custody of their kids. The school year has a fairly fixed schedule. However, once the kids are off for several months, the usual custody schedule isn’t going to work.

If you’re still working out your custody agreement and parenting plan (or maybe haven’t even gotten to that point yet), there are some things you’ll want to decide on so that you and the kids can look forward to summer vacation – whatever that looks like for you.

Child care

If you both work (outside of the home) and your kids aren’t old enough to be left on their own, you may need to enroll them in some kind of day camp or other child care program. If they’re old enough, summer school may help them get a head start on learning a new language or accumulating some early college credits. You and your co-parent need to work out how the cost for these things will be divided and other details.

Vacation plans

If one or both of you is planning to take a trip with the kids, it’s crucial to get that on the schedule. If your children are old enough to have a say in where you go, let them. It’s typically wise to coordinate with your co-parent so that you aren’t both taking them to Disney World or some other vacation spot (unless they want to go twice in one summer).

If you plan to take them out of the state or out of the country, make sure you have your co-parent’s written consent. The last thing you want to do is violate any terms of your custody agreement.

Don’t let your own differences with your co-parent put a damper on your kids’ summer vacation. The earlier you can have plans in place, the better. Kids typically like to talk about their summer plans with their friends. No one wants to say they don’t know what they’ll be doing because their parents are still fighting about it.

It’s good to get as much negotiated and codified in your custody agreement as possible. However, remember that summer is all about having a little extra flexibility. It’s important to remember that when things don’t always go according to plan.

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