With summer rapidly approaching, child custody is something that many divorced parents will need to discuss. However they choose to handle their child or children's schedule for those three warm and carefree (for them, at least) months, it needs to be addressed.
Because while child custody agreements are typically decided and settled on following a divorce, they can still look a little different in the summer. Here are some dos and don'ts that parents may want to consider:
Do plan a vacation schedule in advance. The first thing to tackle in dealing with child custody during summer vacations is to agree on a schedule. Once approved by a court and thus made legally binding, this temporary schedule controls the three school-less months and helps to avoid many potential conflicts.
Do communicate with the other parent. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is crucial to communicate -- even more so during the summer. Make sure you notify the other parent of any vacation plans, summer activities, or just any other general summer-only changes that might be made. If there is any issue communicating directly with your ex, a mediator can always help.
Do consider emotional impact on the kids. For your little one, a summer custody schedule may be a huge change. For example, maybe your child will be seeing one parent less often, or staying at a different house in a different city or state. These changes can bring up an emotional reaction to your child, and you should do your best to explain to them exactly what that means.
Don't take it personally if your child misses the other parent. This will be a fairly drastic change for your children, and it's only normal that they will miss their other parent if they are seeing them less. It shouldn't be taken personally; instead, you should focus and look forward to all the extra time you'll be getting to spend with them.
Don't make any legal decisions without consulting your attorney. Even if you have more custody of your child during the summer, legal custody still remains on the same set terms. It's best to consult your attorney or at least communicate with your ex-spouse before making any decisions on your own.
Don't skip out on any payments. Your child may or may not be spending more time with you because of those summer months and your financial situation may be different because of it. But this doesn't mean that you can skip any payments or tweak them accordingly. You can request a child support modification, however.