If you are in the process of getting divorced and have children, you and your former spouse will need to develop a parenting plan that will outline where the children will live, how visitation will be arranged, and clarify how major decisions for the children will be made. It can be challenging enough to arrange a schedule and routine during the school months, but it is also important to consider how the summer months will be scheduled. After all, children are out of school, will have more free time, and the summer months are often times when families go on vacation and spend more time outside. Childcare may need to be considered. Additionally, if one or both parents plans to travel during the summer months, vacation plans may also need to be considered in your parenting plan. While it is impossible to think of what your vacation plans might be ten years down the road, addressing how you and your former partner will discuss these plans is an important aspect of any sound parenting plan.
For all of these reasons, a thorough parenting plan should take into account not only plans for the regular school year, but also plans for the summer months. The Elliot Green Law Offices are divorce lawyers in Brooklyn, New York who can help you draft a co-parenting plan that can work for your family year-round. Here are some tips to help you draft a sound summer co-parenting plan.
- Consider Summer Childcare Needs. One of the biggest issues you and your former partner will need to address are childcare needs. With the kids out of school, there will be time during the day where children will need to be cared for. If both parents work during these hours, how will childcare be arranged, who will pay for it, and which parent will drop off and pick up the children? Will the children attend summer school?
- Consider Summer Activity Expenses. Will the children attend summer camps or take summer classes? If so, will these result in additional expenses that may not be addressed by child support? Discussions about paying for additional activities may be addressed in a parenting plan. Co-parents may want to speak about how decisions about summer activities will be made because these decisions can also impact summer vacation plans—not to mention, financial plans.
- Without the structure of school, will the children have a regular bedtime? Will the children be required to complete homework or read summer book lists? What about chores? What about outdoor activities? Both parents may want to agree on some ground rules about summer to avoid any future disagreements or confusion. Few parents want to pick up the children on Friday morning to learn that the children stayed up late the night before and are now tired and cranky.
- Consider Holidays and Birthdays. Holidays and birthdays should also be considered. Summer holidays are often times when families plan vacations or parties, so you and your former spouse may want to discuss alternating years when the children will be with each parent or alternating summer holidays. If birthdays take place over the summer, how these occasions will be planned should also be considered.
- Include Flexibility. As your children grow, their needs for the summer may change. A younger child might stay home, while a pre-teen might go to summer camp. A teen getting ready for college may need to spend the summer preparing for the SAT’s and college admissions essays. A parenting plan that takes into account the changing needs of your children may not always need to be revisited in the future.
- Talk to Your Children. Let older children be involved in summer planning and discuss their wishes.
- Address Disagreements Before They Arise. Your parenting plan may also include provisions for how disagreements will be handled. Should changes to the parenting plan be made in writing? Can you provide a means by which changes should be made? Is there a timeline for when co-parents should inform each other about summer vacation plans? What happens if major disagreements arise? The parenting plan may also include provisions about when it might be appropriate to seek mediation with the help of your family lawyer.
These are just some things you may want to consider when making parenting plans for the summer, but every family’s needs will be unique. The Elliot Green Law Offices are divorce lawyers in Brooklyn, New York who can help you draft a parenting plan that works for your family. Our lawyers understand that making decisions about child custody and visitation can be one of the most challenging decisions that divorcing couples may need to make. Our family lawyers can assist you with every step of your divorce, including drafting a sound parenting plan that can grow with your children and family.