The dog days of summer are here – swimming lesson, summer camp, sports clinic and family vacation time. For newly divorced families, working through some or all of these things can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.
In my 19 years of experience as a family law attorney, I’ve worked with hundreds of families, and I can tell you that communication and having a good parenting plan is key. I like to remind parents of the Golden Rule: “do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.”
Here are a few points to consider to make summer parenting easier.
- Camps & Clinics: First, check to see how your parenting plan and decree address extracurricular activities – especially in regard to payment. If the camp or clinic dates overlap parenting time with the other parent, make sure to communicate with them about your child’s participation. They don’t have to give up their parenting time, so communicate early about whether or not they will cooperate with your child’s participation. If needed, communicate with the camp about dates your child may miss while they’re with their other parent. If it’s an overnight camp, make sure to schedule it during your parenting time, or check with the other parent before committing to the camp.
- Childcare: If your child is in school but young enough to need childcare during the summer, it should be addressed in your parenting plan. If not, refer to your divorce decree for who is responsible for payment and decision-making. If you have joint legal custody with your ex, work together to find the nanny, sitter, day camp or daycare that is best for your child and work in partnership to ensure your child has a stable schedule and reliable transportation.
- Vacation: There are so many variations to vacation agreements; your parenting plan should lay out almost all of the details. A well drafted plan will address how much notice you’ll need to give the other parent about your plans – usually 60 days, so plan ahead. Vacation parenting time typically supersedes regular parenting time, but upon return, parenting time will usually revert to the other parent if the vacation overlapped their parenting time. (But, keep in mind that in many parenting plans, holiday time usually supersedes vacation time.) The plan should also tell you to provide the other parent with travel itineraries including flight, hotel and contact information.Your parenting plan should also include a provision about travel outside of the U.S. If your child is under 16, make sure your parenting plan contains information about obtaining a passport for them. When you travel abroad, you’ll need a verified consent form signed by the other parent.
If your plan doesn’t lay out a vacation strategy, do your best to coordinate around each other’s parenting schedules. Communicate early and often about your intentions. Send an email, so it’s in writing. If the other parent doesn’t respond, move forward with your plans in a respectful manner providing as much information as possible; if they say no, respect their “no” or you could end up in court.
Again, communication is key. If you were placed in the other parent’s position, what information would you expect him or her to provide? Whatever your answer is to that question is what you should do – even if the other parent is unlikely to reciprocate.
If you have questions about your parenting plan or decree, or feel it may need updated, contact the experienced Adams & Sullivan family law attorneys by calling 402-339-9550 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.