Summer Co-Parenting: Tips for Your Summer Parenting Plan

Some people are more set in their schedules than others, but anything that interferes with your daily routine can add more stress to your life. That includes your child’s summer break from school when you no longer have the predictable school-year schedule you outlined in your parenting plan. While some parenting plans are more detailed than others regarding how parents coordinate their custody and parenting time schedules during the summer, don’t forget these important tips from our family law experts at Oxendine Law.

1. Plan Your Summer Parenting Time in Advance

In most Georgia custody cases, one parent has primary custody while the other parent has a set parenting time schedule, such as every other weekend. These cases usually also give the non-custodial parent a longer period of parenting time during the summer, often 2 or 3 weeks taken consecutively or non-consecutively. Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule your awarded summer parenting time! Especially for parents who live a longer distance from each other, you’ll need to plan around vacations, sports, clubs, and more.

2. Don’t Assume Summer Changes Your Usual Schedule

For most parents, over the Summer months you will continue your regular schedule on a daily basis with the addition of whatever specific summer parenting time is set forth in your parenting plan (i.e. two non-consecutive weeks of summer vacation). However, you should pay close attention to what is detailed in your parenting plan because some parents actually change the schedule completely during Summer to either an equal sharing of parenting time, or maybe the non-custodial parent even gets the majority of the Summer. If you have any confusion, it’s important to review your parenting plan and ask your child custody lawyer for clarification to ensure that you are following the Order correctly.

3. Get Any Changes in Writing

Despite the best-planned custody arrangements, things will happen, and schedules will change. We always advise parents to keep an open and cordial line of communication with their ex so that they can both work together when they need to adjust their custody schedule. However, be sure to get all of this in writing. If you don’t your ex could claim that you aren’t adhering to the signed parenting plan and they can use this against you. Protecting yourself could be as simple as texting or emailing your ex when you need to change your schedule, rather than calling them, or simply send a text or email confirming the details of your phone conversation. Be sure to back up these communications too so that you don’t lose the records if you get a new phone.

4. Have Communication Options Available While Traveling

When you have physical custody of your child, it doesn’t mean your child should be unable to speak to their other parent. Even if you don’t purposefully prevent or interfere with the child’s communications with the other parent. be careful not to do so accidentally either. One common scenario is a parent taking their child on vacation out of the country and failing to purchase an international cell phone plan, etc... Your ex could present this to the court as an example of you preventing them from speaking to the child. This is a type of parental alienation that they can use against you when creating or modifying a parenting plan.

5. Match Your Vacation Schedule to Your Holiday Schedule

Many parenting plans outline a process for each parent to plan summer vacations with their child. Your plan may specify which parent is able to “claim” their vacation dates first or specify that both parents need to have their vacations on the schedule before a certain deadline. As you plan, though, be careful not interfere with your holiday visitation schedule. Most families alternate for holidays, so if this is your ex’s year to have the child with them on the Fourth of July, don’t schedule your vacation on or too close to July 4th. Your ex can use this against you later as an example of you breaking your parenting plan, unless you agree to a swap in writing in advance.

Particularly if you’re new to co-parenting, it can feel overwhelming trying to keep track of your Summer parenting time schedule on top of your child’s school calendar, extracurricular activities, plans with friends, and more. The more detailed you are in your parenting plan, the fewer details you’ll need to work out later with your ex. All of this starts with the help of an experienced child custody attorney who can guide you through the process. Contact Oxendine Law today to get started or to modify your parenting plan.