Whether you’re divorcing or coming to parenting arrangements with an unmarried ex-partner, you’ll need to decide how to handle summer vacation. The rules are different for vacations and override your regular parenting schedule, so you will need to negotiate.
It’s about time to get started, so let’s look at a few common summer schedules:
Alternating weeks and weekends
You may have an existing parenting arrangement that calls for the children to spend time with each parent each week. In some cases, that may mean that one parent has the kids during the school week and the other has them on weekends.
If that is the case, you may wish to reverse those arrangements for summer. The parent who generally has weekends would now have weekdays and vice-versa.
Or, you could alternate entire weeks during summer. For example, one parent would get the entire first week of the summer after a date you specify. The other parent would get the entire following week, and so on.
You could also choose to alternate months or make any sensible arrangement. The key is to focus on your children’s best interests and, in general, work to maximize each parent’s time with the kids.
Focusing on planned vacations
You may be planning a family vacation – and so may your ex. It’s important to allow these, to the extent possible, and be reasonable.
Before you book those non-refundable tickets, check with your children’s other parent to ensure you’re not planning for the same week. Communication is crucial.
If one parent is not planning on taking the kids out of town, he or she may still want dedicated vacation time with the children. Be sure to allow this if you will be taking your trip.
Once you’ve settled the vacations, assume that the children will be with you during the trip. What would be a fair way to split the rest of the time? Alternating weeks and weekends? Alternating every two weeks? Each parent takes half of the summer?
There are many reasonable options
According to Arizona’s parenting plan statute, each parent’s parenting time should be maximized. How you do that specifically is something you can negotiate and have added to your parenting order.
Once the parenting order is in place, you are obligated to follow it unless it is modified through the court. Don’t make informal arrangements to change your parenting schedule; these can backfire. If you need to change the schedule, talk to your family law attorney.