Couples who are getting married for the first time in the United States have a 50% chance of eventually getting divorced. At this point, the majority of American families have shifted away from being a unit made up of the original biologically connected father, mother, and child.
While divorce can be hard for everyone in the family, it can be particularly difficult for children. However, when co-parents choose to put the well-being of their children as the top priority, they can still have a supportive and loving family environment in which to grow up.
If you and your co-parent have existing custody arrangements, you might find that they don’t quite work once school ends and summer begins.
It’s important to create an alternating custody schedule for the summer ahead of time. This way, everyone involved has a sense of the plan in a way that can reduce conflict and focus on your children having the best summer possible.
Why Is It Important to Create an Alternating Custody Schedule For Summer?
School offers a lot of structure to children’s schedules during the academic year. During the summer, however, their schedules open up which can mean that your custody arrangements require some alterations.
Summer vacation is often the most fun time of year for children, allowing them to go on vacation with family, play with friends, spend time outside, and have some time away from the classroom.
However, if you don’t have a set alternating custody schedule for the summer, this can cause confusion and instability for your kids. For this reason, you want to come up with a plan ahead of time. That way, your kids know when they will be where and so will you and your co-parent.
Avoiding conflict with your co-parent is also important when it comes to scheduling custody. Not only is it difficult and unpleasant for both of you, but it can be very difficult for your children as well. Working out your vacation times, conferences, or other unusual events before the summer begins can help keep the whole family on good terms and reduce stress and tension.
Tips For Summer Custody Arrangements
Even if your academic year custody arrangements are working out swimmingly, there is always the potential for hiccups when it comes to planning out summer vacations. You and your co-parents might have vacations in mind with your kids, and your children might have events or programs they’re planning on attending during the summer months.
Decide if You Need to Make Changes to Your Regular Co-Parenting Plan
If new plans pop up over the summer, your shared parenting time routine or custody plans can be thrown for a loop. Your kids will have a lot more free time when they are out of school, meaning that the existing schedule might not work for a few months.
Rather than waiting until the last minute to make changes to your parenting schedule, check in with your co-parent ahead of time. This way, you can take a look at both of your plans to make sure your alternating custody arrangements can be sorted out before the summer begins.
It’s possible that your existing parenting plan already accounts for adjustments during the summer months. It is also possible that is specifies how you need to make changes to your plan. It’s a good idea for this reason to talk with a family law professional or your attorney to make sure that you understand how you can make adjustments to the existing plan.
Check-In Early About Travel Plans
If you and your co-parent are making individual travel plans for the summer, check in with them ahead of time. This is particularly important if any of your plans involve taking the children along. When you create an open line of communication early on, it can help avoid any issues relating to conflicting vacation dates and plans.
You’ll want to have a conversation with your co-parent before you make any reservations or buy plane tickets. It’s better to get things sorted out with your vacation custody plans first before you buy non-refundable tickets or make reservations that can’t be canceled or changed.
When you tell your co-parent well in advance of your planned vacation, it can also help to avoid conflict about the days when you expect to be out of town. It also helps them schedule their own vacation if they plan on taking one.
Build a Sense of Your Personal Schedule
Beyond vacation, there can be a number of exceptional events and engagements that crop up during the summer. Start populating your calendar now rather than waiting until the last minute. Doing this will let you swap parenting time if necessary well in advance in a way that helps avoid conflict and ensures that your alternating schedule will work out fairly.
You’ll also want to look at each of your kids’ schedules when it comes to events like birthday parties, sports games, or other pre-planned events that you already know they will attend. You can then discuss these events with your co-parent and which one of you will attend if either of you does.
Think About Whether or Not Daycare Will Be Necessary
When your kids aren’t going to school during the day, you might need to think about having them attend a daycare program. If both you and your co-parent work the same hours during the day, you’ll have to come up with a plan for where they can have enjoyable yet supervised summer days.
You can find summer daycare programs on a wide price spectrum. You’ll want to start researching the options during the school year so that you can make sure to sign your children up for the program you think would best suit them.
Check-in with the parents of your children’s friends about this as well. From then you can learn where your kids’ friends are attending daycare, ensuring that your children will have buddies they know when they head to camp.
Ask Your Kids How They Feel
When there are so many logistical considerations dealing with alternating custody schedules for the summer, it can be easy to forget to check in with the most important part of the situation: your kids. Ask them what they think and see if they had anything they wanted to do during the summer. You can then try and work those ideas into the co-parenting schedule you set up.
It’s also possible that your kids have a preference when it comes to the type of custody plan you have. Maybe they prefer spending a few days with each parent each week, or maybe it’s better for them to spend two weeks with each parent at a time. It’s possible that your plan can be easily changed in order to better accommodate the needs of your kids.
Get Your Plan in Writing
No matter how well you and your co-parent get along, there’s always room for confusion and uncertainty when it comes to vacation custody plans. For this reason, always get your plans in writing. That way you have a document to fall back on and refer to if there are any issues.
It’s best to write these plans down and store them somewhere both parents have access to. This way, each parent can look at them on their own time if they aren’t sure about the schedule for the upcoming months.
Sample Custody Plans For Summer
Sometimes, it might be necessary to alter the custody schedule you have set up with your co-parent when summertime rolls around. You will want to factor in the time that each parent wants to take the children on vacation, as well as the kids’ activities like summer camp.
Two Weeks Each
If you and your co-parent have schedules that are relatively similar to the school year, you might consider a “two weeks each” plan. This way, the kids spend two weeks with one parent before spending two weeks with the other parent.
Similar to the above plan, alternating weeks allows kids to stay with one parent every other week and the other parent on alternating weeks. For this plan, you can mark the beginning and end of the week whenever works best. For example, you might choose to have each week start and end on Friday at 4 pm.
This schedule allows children to spend three days with one parent and then four days with the other parent. It then switches the next week, so both parents get equal time.
With this plan, the kids spend two days with one parent, then two days with the other parent, before spending the remaining three days with the first parent. The schedule switches the next week so that over a two-week period both parents get equal time.
In the 2-2-5-5 schedule, the children spend two days with each parent. Then, they spend five days with each parent. Over a two week period, both parents get to spend an equal amount of time with the children.
Alternating Every Two Days
If the above schedules seem a bit too hard to keep track of, you also might consider alternating every two days. This means that over the course of a month you will spend the same amount of time having custody of the children.
You will want to have a fairly set plan for the summer before you create your vacation custody plans. While life can be unexpected and things can always change last minute, it’s good to have a sense of your schedule before you create your custody plan.
If you are planning on going on vacation and taking the kids, this time can be incorporated into the overall schedule. Say that you are going to take the children on a two-week vacation. If you are following the two-week alternating plan, then you can simply schedule your vacation in order to accommodate the existing schedule.
Or you can change the existing schedule to accommodate your plan. If you and your co-parent have an agreement to split time with the kids 50/50, this means that the other parent can have an additional two weeks elsewhere in the summer or otherwise sprinkle in extra days throughout the summer weeks to make up the time.
How to Decide if a 50/50 Custody Schedule Is Right For You This Summer
When you are sharing custody of your children, your goal is to best fulfill their social, physical, and emotional needs. Using a 50/50 alternating schedule can be beneficial to children because it allows them to spend equal time with both parents.
These schedules tend to work best when the following conditions are met:
- The parents can communicate amicably about the children without conflict
- The parents live within a reasonable distance from one another so exchanges are easier
- Both parents see the child’s best interest as the most important thing
- The child can handle switching between each of their parents’ homes
- Both parents see a 50/50 alternating schedule as being the best option for the children
Creating a summer break schedule as well as a holiday schedule can help you keep your custody plan orderly and reduce confusion. They can also help to balance out the percentage of time each parent spends with the children if the academic year schedule isn’t even.
Custody and Vacations: What’s Your Plan?
No matter what alternating custody schedule for the summer you come up with, you want to make sure that it’s clearly written out for all involved parties to see. This way, you can avoid potential conflict and reduce the stress involved with keeping a schedule.
Are you looking for a way to keep your summer child care plans organized? With 2houses, you can use our co-parent calendar to help keep communication clear in a way that benefits the wellbeing of your children. You can check out this feature here.