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Child Custody and Summer Visitation/Parenting Time

For people subject to child custody orders, another summer holiday is very nearly upon us, bringing about the all too frequent disputes about holiday and summer parenting time. Over our years of practice, we've seen this time of year create needless lost time and stress, with concomitant expense and ill-will.

When it comes to creating schedules in contemplation of holidays, it helps to have a clear head, a flexible attitude and a spirit of compromise. The basic rules that apply are as follows:

1. Keep spring and summer activities down to a manageable number, and always seek input from the other parent when making selections.

2. Recognize that any activity which you start that goes for a period of time in excess of two weeks will significantly impact the other parent, so be considerate of their schedule on selecting the activity.

3. Choose longer parenting intervals for summer breaks so as to maximize each parent's time with the children.

4. Give the other parent significant prior notice of travel plans. Be considerate, and inform them of your destination, where you'll be staying and activity information.

5. If an activity is significant to you but not significant to the other parent, consider shouldering the financial burden yourself in order to appear to be accommodating.

6. Be patient and understanding.

7. Make sure your activity and travel plans are age appropriate.

8. Avoid major last minute changes and be flexible on transport/pickup requirements.

9. If there are problems with a parent's summer plans, don't argue about them as that will not accomplish anything. Contact your attorney for appropriate court requests.

10. Each parent needs to understand the safety rules with regard to an activity, and each should abide by those rules.

The rules outlined above are based on common courtesy and common sense. When applied to child custody matters, they help to make life far less stressful on litigants and make the lives of the children far more pleasant.