father and son on beach

7 Co-Parenting Strategies for Spring and Summer Breaks

Spring and summer break co-parenting can be tricky, but with the right approach, you can make it a breeze for you and your child.

The days of carefree, endless-sun-drenched summer are almost here – and we bet your kids cannot wait! They will make memories swimming, playing with their friends, learning new moves at karate camp, and relaxing on the Jersey shore’s sandy beaches.

Not to put a damper on those sunny skies, but co-parenting during summer break can make some waves in June, July and August. Things can get stressful very quickly when you are trying to make sure you and your co-parent can spend quality time with your kids – while they enjoy summertime. The good news is that with the proper planning and our helpful tips, your whole family can have a fun and unforgettable sunny season.

What’s a Parenting Plan?

If you and your partner are no longer together but share children, you have most likely created – or will do so soon – a parenting plan to help you co-parent successfully. These plans include details about each person’s parental rights and responsibilities.

Typically, if you are divorced, your parenting plan is created alongside your settlement proceedings. This plan sets out who has decision-making power and parenting time, which is the time each parent spends with the child. Other items include:

  • Defining the parental responsibility arrangement (whether it’s shared or sole decision-making authority
  • Setting the physical custody plan, including the timesharing schedule
  • Specifying arrangements for special events, holidays and vacations
  • Determining how you’ll handle additional expenses, such as for extracurricular activities
  • Establishing child support terms, including education and healthcare
  • Planning for the transportation and exchange of the children
  • Setting guidelines for parent-child and inter-parent communication
  • Including provisions for adjusting the plan as the child grows older.

It is a good idea to try agreeing on a timesharing schedule with your co-parent. If you can’t agree, you may end up in family court with a judge setting a schedule they deem in your child’s best interest.

The (Fun) Summer Upset and Visitation Schedules to Try

While your school-time parenting time plan might run like a top, you will most likely change up your routine for spring break or the 12 sunny weeks of summer. Chances are, this temporary warm-weather schedule includes daycare or babysitters, summer camp, picnicking, fun day trips, and more extended vacations to Boston, the Outer Banks and beyond.

After assessing your calendar and availability, the next step is establishing a summer parenting schedule. If an equal timesharing agreement is in your child’s best interest, consider these four joint summer schedule arrangements suitable for divorced, separated or unmarried co-parents.

2-2-3 schedule: This is ideal if you live near your co-parent and your kids do not mind moving back and forth between homes. With the 2-2-3 schedule, your child spends two days with you, two days with the other parent, and then a long weekend with you. The following week, it switches so that you enjoy a long weekend stargazing or camping with your kids.

The upside to this schedule is that you can see your kids frequently, and they will not go long without seeing their other parent. As your children get older, this schedule might not work as well if they have set activities or are not as open to frequent changeovers.

Alternating weeks: This schedule is straightforward. Your kids stay with you this entire week and then stay with your co-parent the next. If you have planned vacation time or a week-long summer camp or two, the alternating week schedule lets you slide in those events without making many adjustments. This is an easy schedule, although kids may miss their other parent during this time. To remedy this, some parents add an overnight stay midweek at the other parent’s home.

Every two weeks: A more extended variation of the alternating week schedule, this one lets kids settle in for longer periods at each parent’s house – giving you more leisure time to put together those 500-piece puzzles, binge-watch your favorite flicks, barbecue in the backyard or head to the shore to soak up the sun and sea. Try to schedule FaceTime sessions for your kids to connect with their other parent while they are enjoying time with you.

The entire summer at one parent’s home: This scenario works well for some families. For example, this arrangement might be ideal if you have primary custody of your kids during the school year and your co-parent lives far away. That way, each parent can build strong bonds with the kids. If you are contending with a situation where it is too far to drive for weekly changeovers, this arrangement or a modification where you divide the summer into two halves makes sense.

Regardless of the schedule you select, having a well-defined plan for dividing parenting responsibilities will provide your child with a sense of security, as they can depend on a consistent routine.

7 Tips for Smooth Sailing During Spring and Summer Breaks

We know that co-parenting during the summer comes with its own hurdles. However, by taking some proactive steps, you can create a smooth and stress-free experience for you, your co-parent and your child.

1. Review your existing parenting time plan.

It is time to dust off your agreement and read through it to familiarize yourself with the arrangements you agreed to with the co-parent. You should check if the plan already accounts for spring or summer break or explains how to make adjustments with the co-parent.

2. Plan your summer-fun activities ahead of time.

Ideally, you should contact your co-parent a couple of months before summer sets in to openly discuss your arrangements for the family. Starting with your vacation plans is a great idea. Let’s say you want to take your kids on a weeklong trip to Disney World the first week of July. You do not want to learn later that your co-parent was planning to take them to Disneyland the same week. Planning in advance helps avoid disappointment and conflict.

The goal is for you and your co-parent to both enjoy the destination vacations you’ve been dreaming of with the kids. Plus, if your children want to do an art or baseball summer camp a particular week, they get to do that too. The focus should be on creating a mutually beneficial agreement that also considers the kids’ summer plans. Remember, it is easier to work out details ahead of time than to change plans at the last minute – and that is when things get heated.

3. Put it all out in the open.

In other words, commit to clear communication with your co-parent. That includes sharing your vacation plans ahead of time, including your itinerary and where you are staying. That also means keeping your child’s other parent informed about any changes or delays that could impact your agreed-upon summer schedule so they can adjust accordingly. Keeping your kids at the top of your mind while maintaining transparency builds trust with the co-parent and creates a strong foundation for an enjoyable summer without any unnecessary drama.

4. Plan to be as flexible as you can.

The unexpected always happens – a flat tire on the way to a beach or a fun opportunity for your kids to visit their other parent’s grandparents during your weekend with them. Consider your children’s best interests when deciding if your co-parent pops up with a reasonable request. Being cooperative creates a friendly and flexible co-parenting partnership and puts your kids at ease.

5. Do not forget to consider what your kids want and need.

Before you settle on an alternating week parenting schedule or book that week’s vacation in Niagara Falls, get your kids’ input first. Depending on their ages, they might have interests or preferences that help you adjust your schedule and expectations. When you involve them in the decision-making, it gives them some ownership of how they will spend their break – and builds excitement about what adventures they will enjoy with each parent. You want to create a memorable summer vacation for your kids, and this is an excellent way to do it.

6. Write out a detailed vacation plan.

While planning that unforgettable getaway to balmy Key West or the picturesque Grand Canyon, include sharing a complete vacation plan with your co-parent. As we mentioned earlier, providing this information, from travel dates to accommodation and emergency contact information, keeps everyone in the loop — making for stress-free communications.

Suppose you are in the middle of your custody hearings. In that case, it is a good idea to consult with your attorney at Lawrence Law to determine if you’ll need permission from the co-parent or do anything additional before you schedule your trip.

7. Respect the co-parent’s space and boundaries.

Remember that for everyone to enjoy summertime, it is important to avoid conflicts and respect your visitation agreements. Do not involve your kids in any back-and-forth or badmouth your co-parent if you do have a disagreement. Plus, set up regular communication channels, like video chats or phone calls, and times between your co-parent and kids when they are with you.

It is totally normal to have conflict with your co-parent around time sharing schedules during spring and summer breaks. However, it is also very doable to create a harmonious arrangement that respects everyone’s wishes for an amazing summer full of fun memories.

Contact the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Lawrence Law for Guidance About Child Custody and Parenting Time

At Lawrence Law, we understand that co-parenting can sometimes become contentious, especially around vacations or summer break, hurting your children’s well-being. Our custody matters and parenting time lawyers are here to help you reach a peaceful and amicable solution that prioritizes your children’s interests. We’ll stand by you and your family every step of the way, even when your life circumstances change.

To schedule a consultation, call (908) 645-1000 or fill out our confidential contact form. Our offices are conveniently located in Watchung and Red Bank, NJ. If you need assistance with child custody or parenting time issues do not hesitate to contact us today.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you’re seeking legal advice, please get in touch with our law firm directly.

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