Managing the Custody and Support During Summer Break
When school lets out, the regular schedule for the kids goes out the window, and managing their summer schedule presents a co-parenting challenge. Camps, playdates, vacations, and even day-to-day childcare all require planning and often have an associated expense. While some custodial arrangements will go into detail about how to handle the basics of summer break, it’s unlikely that every eventuality will be covered. Here are some tips for avoiding conflict in the dog days of summer.
1. Plan Ahead
Not only are summer plans less expensive when planned out well in advance, working out the summer schedule as early as possible with the other parent allows the summer to proceed more smoothly. If there are conflicts between the parents about the schedule, it’s best to try to work them out before the break so that everyone is clear on the plans when it’s time to act on them. In addition, if the plans involve traveling out of the state or country, the other parent’s consent may be required, so it’s best not to jeopardize the trip by waiting until the last minute.
2. Work Out a Budget
Camps and other activities like pool memberships and outings can get expensive. Be clear about which costs are joint and which are the sole responsibility of the parent who makes the plan. Some of these issues will be spelled out in the custody and support agreement, but it is a good idea to get clarity on whether there will be a battle over an expense before committing to an activity for the kids. Some activities like camp may be an alternative to childcare, so the responsibility of both parents is a little more apparent, but be careful about more extravagant expenses that might not be divisible between the parents.
3. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
It can be hard to communicate with the other parent under normal circumstances, but summer introduces enough disruption to the usual routine that it creates more room for discord. Develop a thorough plan as a place to start the discussion, but be flexible to accommodate the other parent’s plans. For example, it may be your weekend to have the kids, but if the other parent has a family reunion, be willing to switch things up so that the kids don’t miss out on the event.
4. Sweat the Small Stuff
Who will be picking the kids up from camp? How will you divide the expenses related to an activity like equipment and the many other items the kids will need for their summer activities? If there are consent or health forms, work on getting the necessary signatures. In other words, plan and communicate with the other parent about the details that can get in the way of the experiences if they haven’t been handled.
While the school year presents continuity that can make custodial arrangements relatively uncomplicated, summertime disrupts the schedule, putting the burden on parents to figure out what the kids are going to do all day, who will be caring for them, and how to manage the associated expenses. The best time to address these issues is in a custody and support agreement. If that didn’t happen, you may want to confer with experienced counsel about the rights and responsibilities of each parent when it comes to summertime. Contact Reese Law today to set up a consultation.