How to Avoid Custody Disputes Over Summer Break

A Divorced Parent’s Guide to Summer Custody Schedules

School’s out for summer break, which is exciting for children but not always for their divorced parents. This is because summer break tends to be challenging for divorced parents, as determining a custody schedule that works for the parents and most importantly, their child, is not always that simple.

After over a year of lockdowns and strict public health regulations, the state of New York is finally getting back to normal like the rest of the country. This means that families are itching to travel and get away, making up for lost time. So how does this affect custody schedules during the summer?

Summer Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

Determining a summer custody and visitation schedule really depends on how much time the kids have off school, the duration of any planned vacations, the parents’ schedules, and other key factors for consideration. To make the process easier, parents are encouraged to consider the following tips when making a custody schedule for the summer:

  • Review your court-ordered custody plan: Before deciding on a summer visitation schedule, it’s important to know your rights first and foremost. Your custody plan may include guidelines specifically on vacations and summer breaks, therefore, we encourage you to take a look at your arrangements before moving forward.
  • Plan ahead: If you are planning a weekend getaway with your kids or believe you have a work trip coming up, you should solidify your plans sooner rather than later to avoid any conflicts with your children or your ex. Communication is key, which brings us to our next point.
  • Openly communicate: Strong communication is of the utmost importance always, especially during the summer. Plans are fluid during this time of year, so you should prioritize keeping an open line of communication with your ex and your children for this reason. If you’re thinking of going away for a week, communicate that. If you want to take your kids or leave them with your ex, communicate that. If you want to go out of the county with your kids and your new partner for 3 weeks, communicate that.
  • Be flexible: Since plans are fluid and constantly changing, you should try to be flexible. If your ex takes your kids on a week-long road trip but decides to stay a couple of days longer, do your best to accommodate the change in plans because if it were you, you’d probably want your ex to do the same. Being flexible also helps because it can allow you and your ex to compromise on solutions much more efficiently.
  • Consider your children’s needs and schedules: At the end of the day, your summer custody and visitation schedule comes down to your kids and their needs. If your child wants to go camping with their friend on the weekend that you were going to visit them or your they don’t want to accompany you on a work trip, do your best to accommodate them and their wishes. As we said before, flexibility is key.
  • Don’t be last-minute: If plans change last minute, you probably shouldn’t expect your ex and your children to be compliant. For instance, if your ex had weekend visitation rights but your parents planned to visit their grandchildren that weekend too, you should prioritize your ex’s visitation rights first and foremost. A good rule of thumb is that when you’re stuck in the middle, it is best to go with the original visitation plan.
  • Discuss your summer plans with your ex ahead of time: As we said before, communication is key. Even if you have a mere idea of where you want to travel with the kids, it is best to let your ex-spouse know what’s on your mind, so they are in the loop. Proactively communicating your plans will benefit everyone.
  • Consider mediation if you and your ex disagree on a schedule: Mediation is a great alternative to litigation when it comes to legal disputes. You and your ex can meet with an unbiased, third-party professional to smooth out your disputes and reach mutually agreeable solutions to your summer custody battles.

Common Holiday Custody Schedules to Consider

Depending on your kids’ ages, the relationship between you and your ex, and your schedule during the summertime, you may want to consider the simple yet effective custody schedules below:

  • One week on, one week off: Each parent can alternate weeks, so they spend time with their kids every other week.
  • Two weeks on, two weeks off: Since summer break is the longest school holiday, you may want to consider alternating custody every two weeks.
  • Weekend visits: The non-custodial parent may spend every weekend with the children during their summer break, while the custodial parent gets the kids on weekdays.
  • 50/50: If it is in the children’s best interests, you and your ex can do a 50/50 custody schedule during the summer, meaning you both essentially have equal visitation rights during the break. Splitting the holiday in half may be practical for you, your ex, and your kids, but be sure to communicate this idea early on.

Talking to a lawyer can be the most effective way to build an enforceable summer custody schedule. They can listen to your situation and goals, walk you through your options, and draft a clear and concise schedule that works for everyone. We encourage you to call our firm at (845) 605-4330 to schedule a consultation with our Putnam County attorney today!

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