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Keeping Summertime Easy and Stress-Free – Tips for Divorced Parents


Summer break is a special time for children – no school, warm weather, vacation and time to do new things, or nothing at all. For parents who are divorced, it can mean quality time with kids that creates meaningful experiences and deepens relationships.

But summer also has the potential to be highly stressful. With some foresight and planning, summer break doesn’t have to be a hassle. Remember, the two key aspects to a successful summer are having a plan and communication with the other parent. 

Here are some considerations as we head into the vacation months.

Revisit your custody and parenting plans. Refamiliarize yourself with the original plans you and your co-parent agreed to or were ordered by the court. You may have forgotten or overlooked a change in visitation frequency or length, for example. Pay attention to disclosure details you may have outlined, such as out-of-state trips or air travel. Will the children be meeting your new partner on vacation? Look for caveats that require you to communicate in advance with your ex, keeping in mind that clear, nonconfrontational conversations have the best outcomes.

Discuss your plans with your former spouse. Make it a habit to touch base well before school is out. If there are any deviations from the parenting plan, bring them up. Be sure to discuss all of your plans that involve your child, from grandparent visits to camp schedules to special school trips.  While you are not required to share every detail, having open communication can often help coparents avoid misunderstandings and conflict. Be open to changing your schedule if it will benefit your child and be sure to document any verbal agreements you reach.

Flexibility is key. Summer should be less rigorous than the school year. It should be fun! Your child may have their first summer job or join a new sports team. These new activities may not be outlined in the parenting plan, so be open to working with your ex to carve out time in the custody rotation. Opportunities for your children to travel with friends may also arise. These new situations are great for kids’ personal growth and should be encouraged. Be ready to give and take when opportunities arise.

Be aware of scheduling options. Many parents are not aware that custody schedules can vary from school year to summer break. You may be able to plan longer periods with your child, such as one to two weeks for vacation. One week on, one week off is another option some parents choose. There is really no limit to the variations you and your ex can create; just be sure to communicate with each other, agree and document the changes. 

Keep your kids’ needs top-of-mind. Children may become stressed about tentative plans or be disappointed when a “promised” trip does not materialize. Be careful to only communicate plans that are certain and agreed upon by the other parent. If your older child is on a school or sports trip or is vacationing with a friend’s family, be sure to share all information with your ex. This way, in the event of an emergency, either parent can adequately respond. Listen to your kids’ concerns and fears about new activities and share them with your former spouse. Children, especially younger ones, are often sensitive to new experiences but will handle them well with your understanding and encouragement.

At an impasse? Consult your attorney. Sometimes parents cannot agree on custody changes or specific plans during the summer. If there isn’t a parenting plan in place, the chance of this increases. When you have questions or feel you’ve run out of options with your ex, seek advice from your family law attorney. They may be able to suggest different strategies or remind you of legal frameworks that must be followed. If a solution cannot be found, they may advise you to seek redress in court.

A summer break filled with positive, rewarding, fun experiences can be a game changer for a child whose parents are divorced. By communicating clearly and often with your ex, you will remove many of the stresses children readily perceive. Flexibility and civility help make the summer something the entire family looks forward to each year.

Margaret Simpson’s practice focuses exclusively on family matters such as divorce, alimony, asset division, legitimation, and contempt and modification actions. She has a particular interest in appellate cases.


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About The Author

Margaret Simpson Associate

Since graduating law school in 2008, Margaret has focused her practice exclusively on family law matters including divorce, alimony, asset division, child custody, child support, contempt and modification actions, as well as legitimation and grandparent visitation cases. Margaret has a specific interest in appellate cases. With the experience of handling numerous appeals before the Georgia Read More

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