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Co-Parenting and Summer Vacation

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It’s summertime, and living should be easy.  However, in families of divorce with children, things can become complicated – especially when planning for summer vacations.

Summer vacation can be a major source of contention between divorced parents.  Each wants to have the freedom to plan their vacations at will.  However, depending upon custody arrangements or parenting plans, summer vacation options may be limited.

If you are a divorced parent, here are some key points to consider as you make your summer vacation plans:

  • Make sure that your custody schedule has language about when each parent gets to take a vacation.
  • Adhere to the dates in the custody schedule regarding when you have to give your notice to the other parent about vacation dates.
  • Plan your vacation well ahead of time, keeping in mind that you cannot schedule your vacation around other special days where the other parent has custody, i.e. Mother’s/Father’s Day, the other parent’s birthday, etc.
  • Make sure you get an itinerary from the other parent about times/dates of any vacation plans, including flight numbers, hotel names, etc.
  • Likewise, provide your itinerary to the other parent if you are taking a vacation.
  • Provide the other parent with a phone number where the child(ren) can be reached while on vacation, and vice versa.
  • If you are planning a vacation outside of your court-ordered vacation time and the other parent agrees, make sure you get it in writing.
  • Don’t use the children as messengers.  All planning and information regarding the vacations (itineraries, changes in plans, etc.) needs to communicated directly.
  • Allow the children to be excited about the vacation with the other parent.
  • While it may be tempting to get all the details on the vacation from the child(ren) when they return, refrain from using them as spies to get the dirt on your ex.  Listen and ask questions about the children’s activities, but don’t grill them about the other parent.  Unless they bring up the issue they had, concern yourself only with the fun they had on their vacation.  And keep all snarky comments to yourself.   It’s about the kids.

Kids in the Middle (, a nonprofit group that “helps families transition to a new way of life before, during and after separation and divorce,” also recommends the following tips to help make summer vacations easier on the children:

  • Make arrangements for your child(ren) to contact the other parent while on vacation.
  • Discuss a plan for what the child(ren) can do if they are missing the other parent while gone for an extended time (call, draw them a picture, send them a postcard, etc.)

In the end, it is important to remember that the vacations should be about enjoying spending time with the children.  Keeping these tips in mind will keep the stress down on everyone involved – and your summertime will be easier.

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