It's not uncommon for parents to disagree over summer parenting schedules. Particularly if your child custody arrangement changes in the summer months, you may have questions about how those changes will impact your visitation schedule and child support payments. Here are some of the most common summer parenting issues:
- When should our summer parenting schedule begin?
Most families switch to their summer parenting schedules as soon as the kids are out of school, rather than waiting for June 21, the first official day of summer. Alternatively, if your kids aren't in school yet, you could begin your summer routine on Memorial Day Weekend.
- I have full custody during the school year, and my ex has regularly scheduled visits with the kids. During the summer, he gets four consecutive weeks with them, though. Shouldn't I assume his regular visitation schedule then, meaning that I would get the kids on Wednesday nights and every other weekend?
Given that you're flipping roles during those four weeks, it would be reasonable for you to have the opportunity to visit with your kids once a week and every other weekend. Particularly if your kids are young, four weeks would be a long time not to see you. I'd suggest speaking with your ex about the issue and working together to write your summer visitation schedule into your custody agreement.
- I've signed my kids up for several different summer activities, including swimming lessons and day camp. However, my ex is now saying that he refuses to take time out of his extended summer visitation (which is two consecutive weeks out of the summer) to drive them to their activities. I feel this is a waste of money and that he should take them. What do you think?
This isn't uncommon. I'd recommend working with your ex to reach a compromise. For example, perhaps he'd be willing to take the kids to their swimming lessons, but not camp. In the end, though, if he refuses to take them while they're staying with him, that's his prerogative. In the future, you may want to speak with him first before signing the kids up for summer activities. For this year, speak with your kids' instructors and camp directors to see if you can be reimbursed for the days they don't attend.
- I pay child support twelve months of the year, even when my kids are with me for the summer. Shouldn't I get a break when they live with me, since presumably I'm spending more money taking care of them?
You make a valid point. However, you should speak with your attorney before skipping any payments. It's possible that your annual payments already take into account the fact that the children live with you two months out of the year. If you'd like to request a child support modification, you'll need to go through the courts so that it cannot later be said that you failed to meet your child support obligation in full. Even if your ex tells you privately that you don't need to make payments during the summer, I would recommend that you write the checks out and let her void them.
- My ex is adamant that she wants the children to live with her during the school year because she thinks that alternating homes could affect their school performance. But now that it's summer, she won't relent. What can I do?
Technically, you could take your ex back to court to request a child custody modification. However, trying to work it out informally with your ex may be to your advantage, since the courts tend to frown on parents who expect them to step in and resolve issues of personal preference.