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Tips for Divorced Parents Managing Summer Visitation Schedules

Happy mother gives daughter a piggy back ride outside in the sunshine.

Summer can be a time of joy, relaxation, and excitement for children, but for divorced parents, it can present unique challenges, especially when it comes to visitation schedules.

Balancing fun and structure in summer visitation schedules

The shift from the structured routine of the school year to the free-spirited days of summer requires a delicate balance of fun and structure to ensure a seamless experience for children. A well-thought-out summer visitation schedule is important for divorced parents to manage this balance effectively.

The following guidance is from our experienced family law and divorce attorneys, who understand what it takes to create a plan that works for everyone involved.

Summer visitation schedule options

The first step in planning a successful summer for your child is understanding the available options for visitation schedules. Common arrangements include:

  • Alternating weeks. Allow each parent to have the child for a week at a time, making transitions smoother and planning easier.
  • Extended visits. This may involve the non-custodial parent having the child for a more extended period during the summer than during the school year, which can be particularly beneficial for parents living farther apart.
  • Vacation blocks. Allow parents to plan holidays or special trips with their children, ensuring memorable experiences without disrupting the other parent’s time. The key is flexibility and communication between parents to adapt these options to their family’s unique needs.

The geographical distance between parents plays a significant role in summertime planning. Long distances might call for longer, less frequent visits, while parents living closer together might opt for more frequent exchanges. Parental work schedules must also be considered, alongside any vacation plans.

Tips for balancing fun and structure

Creating a summer visitation schedule that balances fun and structure may seem daunting, but with the right approach, it’s entirely achievable. The overarching goal is to craft a schedule that supports the child’s interests and needs while ensuring meaningful, quality time with both parents.

Consider the realistic availability and time limitations of each parent when planning summer schedules. Younger children might require more stability and a structured routine, while older children may crave more freedom and spontaneity. Consider the child’s summer commitments, such as camps or sports, ensuring that the visitation schedule accommodates these activities.

Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Prioritize open communication. Open, honest communication between parents is crucial. Discuss each parent’s expectations and plans for the summer, and be willing to compromise. Utilizing co-parenting apps can streamline communication and keep both parties informed about schedules and any changes.
  • Involve the child in planning. When appropriate, involve the child in the planning process. This empowers them and can help ease any anxieties about summer plans. However, ensure that the final decisions remain adult responsibilities to avoid placing undue pressure on the child.
  • Build in downtime. While it’s tempting to pack the summer with activities, allowing for downtime is essential. Children, like adults, need time to rest and recharge. Ensure the schedule allows for lazy days and spontaneous adventures.
  • Maintain a routine. Even amidst summer fun, maintaining a basic daily routine can provide a child with a sense of security and structure. Simple things like consistent meal times or bedtime routines can make transitions between households smoother.
  • Plan for the unexpected. Flexibility is key. Despite the best-laid plans, summer can bring unexpected changes. Be prepared to adjust the visitation schedule as needed, always with the child’s best interest at heart.
  • Document your plan. Once a schedule is agreed upon, document it. A written agreement can help avoid misunderstandings and provide a framework that can be referred to if disputes arise.
  • Seek professional guidance. Don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of an experienced divorce and child custody attorney to help navigate the complexities of crafting a summer visitation schedule. A divorce lawyer can help ensure the agreement is fair and legally binding.

Get help creating a summer visitation schedule

At Klie Law Offices, we understand that the goal of shared parenting is to foster an environment where children can enjoy both parents, making cherished memories while feeling loved and secure amidst two homes. We also understand that it’s not always easy for divorced parents to agree on summer schedules. Even when ex-spouses are negotiating without anger, child custody disputes can be challenging and emotionally charged.

If you are having trouble—or want to prevent trouble—scheduling summertime custody, our experienced attorneys are here to help. We start by reviewing the specifics of your case and explaining all the options available to you. Contact us and schedule an appointment with a West Virginia divorce lawyer. Our law firm has offices in Buckhannon and Parkersburg, West Virginia.

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