School will be out soon and the children couldn’t be happier. Summer schedules, however, present many challenges for divorced or separated parents who now have children home 24/7 and need to rearrange custodial access schedules. With fewer stay-at-home parents these days, the free time summer break provides to children presents parenting challenges that require good co-parenting skills.
Many separated or divorced parents have separation or custodial agreements that address custodial access during the school year and holidays. However, they often fail to address how time with the children will be shared during the 8-10 weeks schools are out of session. With most parents in the work force, this often means that neither is available for the children despite the strong desire to spend time with them. The answer to this problem sounds easy, but can be difficult for couples that have been estranged or dragged through a legal system that often causes further distance between them. The answer is communication.
Communication and co-parenting have to be a constant and growing effort between mothers and fathers. As long as there is a child in common for whom decisions need to be made, parents must put aside their differences and focus on what the courts want them to focus on – what is best for the children.
It is not unusual for parents to save most of their vacation time for the summer and to actually split the summer schedule with each parent taking a block of four to five weeks at a time or in various combinations, so as to have uninterrupted quality time with the children.
For summer breaks this includes whether the parents can free up any of their work schedule to be more available for the children. If not, then what kind of child care, summer camps or programs will the children be enrolled in? Where will these be held and how does that affect each parent’s access? What about cost? All valid questions and ones that, in most custodial cases, must be made jointly; meaning one parent does not have sole decision making over the other.
Barbara J. King is a partner with Tully Rinckey PLLC, which is based in the Capital District. She concentrates her practice in the areas of family and matrimonial law and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-7100.