Spring is here which means the start of beautiful weather and the promise of summer right around the corner. Many people look ahead to the summer as a time to unwind and take a break from the hectic schedule of the school year. But if you are divorced, there may be extra obligations when it comes to planning how your children will spend their summer. Never put off your planning until it is too late. If you are in the process of divorcing, the following is a good list of the special issues the summer time may bring. If you are already divorced, check your divorce agreement to make sure you are making plans for the children in accordance with your agreement.
1. Summer Vacation:
It is never too early to plan your vacation time with your children. Sometimes, being the early bird can be to your benefit – it can help you get the selection of vacation dates you want to be with the children. Does your agreement state a timeframe by which you have to select your vacation time? Does it state who selects their vacation time first in a given year? Does it state how many days advance notice you have to give to the other parent? These are all good provisions to include in your divorce agreement, as it reduces areas of conflict for the future.
If you have these provisions, make sure you comply with them to show good faith to the other parent. Advance notice of vacation gives the other parent time to object should there be a legitimate concern about the travel. Always make sure that your agreement provides for (and you comply with) providing information as to where the children are travelling, flight information, contact information, itinerary, etc. Are you travelling internationally with the kids? Never forget to start the passport process early as you will need a signature from the other parent. The airline may also require a separate consent to travel form the non-traveling parent.
2. Summer Special Holidays:
Your divorce agreement should always have a holiday schedule. Many times people believe at the time of the divorce that they will be able to agree on the holidays in the future, and while sometimes they do, having a set schedule in place reduces fighting over holidays in the future. Maybe you always spent July 4th at the beach with one side of the family. You will want this in your agreement. Remember that while it might seem like holidays will be easy to divide, people re-marry, they start new traditions, etc., and a set schedule reduces tensions. Clarify with as much detail as possible, including pick up and drop off times.
3. Summer Camp:
If your children have always attended summer camp, you will want to address this issue. If both parents work, the children will require summer child care. Where will the children go? Who pays for camp? Does someone lay out the money to register and the other parent has to reimburse their share? These are all issues to be addressed. If this is the first year that the children are attending camp, remember to consider the options well in advance, because often camps have early registration dates, and popular programs will be filled quickly.
4. Change in times for parenting exchanges:
Sometimes, a custody agreement will call for parenting time to conclude with drop off at school. When school is out, you may need to make alternative arrangements for summer time drop-offs and pick-ups. If a parent is a teacher, perhaps they have more parenting time in the summer because their schedule provides more availability. Take a good look at your custody schedule, and see if the summer will cause reasonable variations.
5. The long distance parent:
If one parent lives out of state, it may be difficult for the children to see that parent often during the school year. If this is your situation, consider whether the best way for that parent to have significant time with the children is to have a block of time during summer break. Don’t forget to address the cost of transportation and flight arrangements (if necessary) including whether the children are old enough to travel unaccompanied.
6. Moving after divorce:
Perhaps your divorce will result in you selling your marital home. Consider that the Spring is usually considered the optimal selling season, with the goal to have the children move over the summer so they can start the school year in their new school.
The spring is the perfect time to plan for your summer ahead. It always pays to plan ahead. Never wait until the last minute. You do not want to be stuck without plans in place. If there are issues that would have to be addressed by the Court, litigation takes time, so addressing issues with the Court in advance will ensure you are not left in a last-minute bind. Planning can help you reduce your stress, so you have more time to spend with your children and enjoy!