Practical Do’s and Don’ts to Avoid Summer Custody Battles

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Don’t hold back their summer with unresolved custody/parenting time issues.

It’s here. Summer and we’re right in the thick of it. A time of year that can be particularly stressful for most separated or divorced parents. Why… Parenting Time scheduling. While many parents and kids alike dream of a summer break complete with plenty of sand and water fun – and maybe even a fun vacation getaway – custody issues can get in the way. Any time parenting and visitation schedules deviate from the norm, it can cause tension between parents and stress for the children.Summer Custody Battles_Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN Family and Divorce ADR Service_Conflict Resolution_Custody Evaluations_IRS_Mediation_Fathers rights


For most, facing any discussion with a co-parent is often procrastinated, avoided and efforts to finding alternative solutions to speaking to each other are highly sought. The reality is any discussion on parenting time and proposed scheduling will need to be discussed inevitably. 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. Trust me, better to make the effort now, together, than allowing the courts to make a ruling you’d have to stick with.

In case you’ve missed it, divorce and separation do not end a parent’s involvement in his or her child’s life.  In fact, statistics demonstrate how well a child adjusts following a divorce or even separation is largely tied to how well parents are able to cooperate with each other.  While parenting time agreements are typically decided and settled on following a divorce, they can still look a little different in the summer. Now, this is not a practice I would encourage, but it is also common for non-married couples to mutually establish a plan “as they go”. However established, here are some do’s and don’ts that parents may want to consider when making summer plans:


  • Do plan a vacation schedule in advance. The first thing to tackle in dealing with parenting time during summer vacations is to agree on a schedule. Once approved by a court and thus made legally binding, this temporary schedule controls the “out-of-school” months (typically 2 1/2 – 3 months) and helps to avoid any 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, in advance, 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 neutral, such as a mediator, can always help. Learn more about Integrous Resolution Services family law neutral, Prophese Fuentes.


  • Do consider the 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 a family law professional. Even if you possess the majority of parenting time with your child during the summer, legal custody still remains on the same set terms. It’s best to consult a family law professional or at least communicate with the other parent 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.


A little bit of preparation and a lot of communication can go a long way when it comes to peaceful co-parenting over the summer, but if any issues or questions arise, scheduling a consultation with a family law professional is a good idea.


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