Summer is just around the corner. In just a few short weeks, many older children finish the school for the year and will have much more free time on their hands. If you and your ex share custody of your children, now is the time to establish your summer custody schedule if you haven’t already. Negotiating custody for the summer comes with challenges though. So, here are five tips to help you as you and your ex establish a summer custody schedule for your children:
1. Account for vacation time and other summer plans. Before you negotiate a summer custody plan, know what weeks you plan to take your child on vacation, to a family reunion and if your child has other summer plans, such as attending sleepaway camp or sports camps.
2. Agree to some basic rules your child will follow at both homes. You need to discuss with your ex if you want to limit your child’s screen time and video game playing time. Or if you want your child to spend a certain amount of time reading each day or completing simple chores. The more you can keep the rules consistent between both homes, the better as your child will know what to expect no matter which parent they are spending time with.
3. Help your children understand the custody schedule, so they know what to expect. You can use a color-coded calendar printout, which could be displayed at your house and at your child’s other home, so they know when they will be at one house versus another and when planned vacations and other activities are.
4. Discuss if your child needs to attend a day camp or needs a summer nanny because you or your ex will need to work. Review your options and choose something that will work for both you, your ex and your child.
5. Stay flexible. Remember to keep your child’s best interests in mind if your ex needs to change your child custody schedule or your child doesn’t want to miss a visit from their grandparents or other family members. Try to keep in mind that allowing your child a little extra time with their other parent and family members is good in the long run and you still will have plenty of time to make fun memories with your child.
If you have a strained relationship with your ex, you may need to work with an experienced family law attorney to negotiate a summer custody schedule. Having an attorney help you establish your child’s summer custody schedule may help you and your ex both reach an agreement you both can live with.