The spring and summer months are full of family vacations and fun with family and friends. Many people also have special celebrations for the spring and summer holidays of Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Determining where and with whom your children will be spending these special times ahead of time will allow for a smoother and more enjoyable spring and summer break for you and your children.

Finalize Your Custody Schedule for Spring and Summer Breaks and Holidays Now to Enjoy the Time with Your Children.

I know it feels like you just got done taking down all those holiday decorations, coiling up your bright colored lights, and riding your living rooms of all those pine needles from your tree, but spring is already right around the corner. Step foot in any retail outlet and they are already in full spring mode, adding an array of pastel Easter baskets to the already pink aisles of Valentine’s Day festivities. Before you know it, the board shorts, sundresses, and flip flops will be making their way to the shelves. While some may complain it is way too early to be thinking about Easter break and summer plans, for parents who are considering separation, have gone through a custody battle, or who may be in the midst of one, the time to think about the upcoming spring holidays and summer time is now.

Similar to Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the Easter holiday is a time to share special memories and traditions with your children. The summer months are full of family vacations and fun with family and friends. Many people also have special celebrations for the summer holidays of Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Determining where and with whom your children will be spending these special times ahead of time will allow for a smoother and more enjoyable spring and summer break for you and your children.

Plan your summer custody schedule like you plan your summer vacation…when the snow is still falling.

For a family law attorney, the weeks leading up to the Easter holiday and summer months are extremely busy at the office as clients often wait until the last minute to address a spring and summer break schedule. For some, they haven’t looked at their schedule for this time period since making the agreement and need to request changes, while others may not have an agreement or court order with their co-parent. The summer months may also include vacation plans to create memories with your children. Many people plan their sunny summer vacations while the snow is still falling. Finalizing your spring and summer break custody schedule should get the same advance planning.

But I already have a custody schedule

If you already have a custody schedule, you should first look to see how your regular schedule compares with your holiday schedule.  Holidays and other special times typically replace or supersede your regular custody schedule. Sometimes understanding this schedule can be tricky. Do I get make-up time for the days I miss from our regular schedule? What day does this holiday schedule begin and end?  Many times there are other activities, church camp, girl scouts meetings, or little league games that need addressed. Maybe these events did not exist when your original agreement was drafted. Your attorney can work with opposing counsel to address any changes that need to be made to your current schedule, or clarify unforseen gaps.

Splitting or Alternating Periods of Custody

If you do not have a spring or summer break schedule in place, there are a number of ways to split or alternate these holidays based on distance between the co-parents and traditions of the parents. For example, some parents decide to alternate the holidays in which one parent would have custody for Memorial Day weekend and while the other parent would exercise custody on  Labor Day weekend. This arrangement would then flip on the following year. Other parents choose to split each holiday. In this situation, using spring break as an example, one parent would have custody of the children from the time school recesses until after lunch on Easter Day, while the other parent would exercise custody from dinner time on Easter Day until school resumes. These schedules in which the holidays are split could also be alternated each year to ensure each parent is able to share in the traditions of the holidays.

Summer break custody schedules are not a one size fits all.

The summer break schedule can be divided in a variety of ways. Some parents will choose to continue their normal custody schedule consistent with the schedule used during the school year. Others, will alternate weeks to get an extended period of time with the children during their summer break. In some situations, one parent exercises primary custody during the school year with the other parent having periods of custody on the weekends; during the summer this schedule alternates and the other parent becomes the primary custodian during the summer months. In most custody agreements, each parent is designated one week of vacation time with the child with advance notice so the schedule can be modified if necessary. However, each custody schedule is different and what works for some co-parents may not work for others.

Resolve potential conflicts now.

You may find yourself in a situation in which you can not agree on a schedule with your co-parent. This may result in the need for the court to decide on an appropriate schedule. Unfortunately, this process of getting your custody case in front of the court can take time. This is another reason why it is important to look ahead to the upcoming spring and summer breaks and speak to your attorney to resolve any potential conflicts now.

The most important thing during the spring and summer holidays and school breaks is the happiness of your children. Addressing your custody schedule now will allow both parents to plan ahead, prevent conflict, and enjoy the time you have with your children.

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