All about Summer Custody Agreements
The good news is that summer custody schedules can be anything that makes sense.
Summer is around the corner, and if you haven’t put together a summer custody agreement, now is the time to do so. Typically, when you are building your Parenting Plan, a summer schedule is included. The courts recognize that summers are different than the school year. Kids have camps, special vacations, maybe summer school, and more.
How does summer visitation work?
Ideally, both parents work together to set a schedule that fits their lives and the kids. We highly suggest that even when both parents are 100% in agreement, the summer visitation schedule is filed with the court. This extra step protects you and your children if any issues arise.
For example, Mom has the kids for four weeks but doesn’t show up at drop-off time. A summer custody order from the court is what Dad can show the police to protect his rights.
In general, the court will go along with anything the parents decide as long as it isn’t detrimental to the children. If parents can’t agree, the court will intervene.
It’s important to remember that the courts want what is best for the children. This means that the courts will usually encourage a relationship with both parents. And the court will protect the child’s school and activities schedule within reason.
Your custody and visitation schedule can include a lot of caveats. For example, your summer custody agreement could stipulate your ex has the children for three continuous weeks during the summer. They are allowed to pick any three weeks, but they must notify you in writing 90 days in advance. You can also stipulate specific “blackout dates” for things like camps or other pre-scheduled summer activities.
Summer custody agreements can look like anything that makes sense. But there are a few things to keep in mind if you feel like your current summer custody schedule needs to be updated:
- Visitation is for time with the child, not a babysitter, girlfriend, or new spouse. If your ex wants the kids to stay at his home when he isn’t there, that’s a problem.
- You can’t force your ex to take the kids. You can’t keep the kids from your ex. If your ex is in violation, take it up with your attorney to have the agreement changed.
- If your kid has summer school or another school-related commitment, make sure your ex and the courts know as soon as possible. If your ex has custody for the summer months and the child has summer school, it is your ex’s responsibility to get the child to and from summer school.
- Your ex can ask for anything they want. It doesn’t mean the court will give it to them. Don’t give in to more or less than what you think is suitable for your kids.
- If you are genuinely concerned that your ex will take advantage of the summer schedule and abduct your children, make that known to the court. Do not approve any international travel. Make sure your agreement stipulates your ex cannot cross state lines with your child. It’s also a good idea to stipulate regular contact with the child.
Summer visitation schedule examples:
- The entire summer (usually the Monday after school ends to the Friday before school starts) for the non-custodial parent. This arrangement is usually only implemented when the non-custodial parent lives out of state and already has a strong relationship with the child. This arrangement would be uncommon for children with special needs or a child who doesn’t know the non-custodial parent that well.
- Same as the school year except for a single 2-4 consecutive week span. This arrangement is typical if one of the parents wants to take the child(ren) on an extended summer vacation out of the city or state.
- Two weeks on, two weeks off. This arrangement could work for both parents that live close or a few hours away.
The good news is that summer custody schedules can be anything that makes sense. However, if you and your ex cannot agree, don’t hesitate to involve your attorney. Family lawyers that deal with child custody and visitation know all the tricks that your ex might be playing. They will make sure that your summer custody agreement is iron-clad, protecting you and your children. Your updated summer custody agreement will provide you all the documentation you need if your ex is in violation.