Children tend to look forward to summer vacation with breathless anticipation, while parents have to struggle to address the practicalities of having their children away from school for roughly three months. Once the parents in a family separate or divorce, there will be an additional layer of complexity added to the summer vacation schedule.
Trying to handle the challenges of summer vacation across two households can be even more stressful than managing those challenges when everyone lives together. Conflict and disputes are likely to arise, so co-parents need to plan ahead to reduce their conflict with one another and how much time they spend negotiating parenting matters. These are some of the common disagreements that arise during summer vacation in a shared custody scenario.
Questionable vacation plans
Adults putting together a parenting plan will often intentionally impose specific limitations on travel for the parents when they have the children. Requiring pre-approval for travel out of the state or out of the country is a common expectation, especially in high-conflict scenarios where people may worry about the possibility of parental kidnapping. Having rules about the distance or duration of a vacation with one parent and the children already in place can cut down on future conflict.
Major activities involving the children
Did one of the kids sign up for horseback riding camp during the summer? Will they need to attend a sports camp to compete with their school team in the fall? Camps and other long-term commitments involving the children can cause challenges regarding scheduling and transportation. Parents may also need to address the financial aspects of such special plans, as camp can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per child.
Rules and expectations for the children
Will the children who are in high school need to get summer jobs or take on more household chores during the summer? Will the parents change their curfew or other rules that apply to their daily lives?
Having consistent rules across both households makes them easier to enforce and easier for children to follow, so parents often benefit from addressing rules and expectations for their children during the summer months in their parenting plans. The more details people include in their parenting plans to address possible issues, the less likely the family is to struggle with unnecessary conflicts over basic vacation concerns.
Adding thoughtful terms to a parenting plan and knowing when to update an existing one can benefit those preparing to share custody across two households, as well as those who are navigating a co-parenting situation already.