School's Out for Summer - What Do We Do With the Kids?

The weather is warming up.  You're firing up the grill.  Maybe you have even taken your first dip in the pool or lake.  Your timesharing schedule is humming along and everyone has fallen into a certain routine.  You know who gets the kids to school, who is going to pick them up.  Things are finally going smoothly and then all of a sudden here comes summer.  What happens now?

Keep in mind that when I am talking about "summertime," I am talking about how the court usually defines it which is the time between school years.  This usually winds up being June and July as children seem to be staying in school later and going back to school earlier and earlier.  To avoid confusion, it is always a good idea to make sure that your timesharing schedule defines "summertime" to avoid confusion.  It sounds silly, but I have seen many people who failed to do that have to pay to litigate over that definition.

Most visitation schedules have some sort of different provision for the summertime.  Some allow equal timesharing and direct the parties to rotate the children on a weekly basis.  Some spell out a schedule of large "chunks" of time for the parents usually in 2-3 week blocks of time.  If the non-residential parent lives far away and has not been able to enjoy regular parenting time with the child during the school year, the summer is often the time when that parent gets to make up for time lost and that parent will normally have the child the majority of the summer.

With all of that said, there is nothing that requires the parents to change their normal timesharing schedule at all simply because it is summer time.  Many parents adopt an "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" attitude.  Even in those situations, some provision should be made to allow each parent to take the children on an uninterrupted vacation for a week or so over the summer if they want.  After all, who wants to deny a child the joys of an hours-long car ride through the sweltering heat of Kentucky in July?

Your schedule should also deal specifically with out the normal "school year" timesharing schedule will resume at the end of summer.  Many judges take the position that you schedule the "school year" schedule for the entire year and then the June/July schedule overlays and supersedes that schedule so that wherever the schedule is as of the beginning of August is where the parties resume.  Sometimes it is as simple as whichever parent had the child last in July, the other parent gets the child the first weekend in August.  Whatever you work out, just make sure it is clear in your schedule.

A question that routinely comes up is the issue of child support over the summer.  The argument goes that the child support obligor has the child more time over the summer and, therefore, the child support obligation should go down.  The courts and the law, however, do not see it that way.  Child support is intended to make sure that the child has all of the necessities as much as possible such as a home, food, utilities, etc.  Those expenses do not stop simply because the child is spending more time at the other parent's home.

With a little bit of planning and understanding, there is no reason summertime for coparents and their children cannot be full of fun vacation memories, Clark.

Photo courtesy of pjmorse

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