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Negotiating and Navigating Parenting Time and Summer Vacations

A family law lawyer can help you negotiate child support and can also assist divorced or divorcing parents in many other ways. One of those ways is to provide advice and guidance on creating a parenting plan when you are divorcing or assistance in negotiating changes to your Parenting Agreement if needed.

Summer vacations are a time of joy for many families. But what happens if parents are divorced, and disagree on summer activities, or vacation time?

This article provides some insight into how summer vacation time is typically included in Parenting Agreements, what to do if parents disagree about how a child’s vacation time should be spent, and when you may need help from a family lawyer.

What is a Parenting Agreement?

First, let’s start with the basics: what is a Parenting Agreement? A Parenting Agreement is a legal document that outlines parenting arrangements and responsibilities for parents who are separated or divorced, and share custody of their children.

The goal of a Parenting Agreement is to help parents build a foundation to protect their children’s well-being, resolve disputes, and make decisions in the “best interests of the child.”

While previous divorce agreements focused on “access” and “custody,” changes to the Divorce Act in March 2021 shifted the focus to the child, and how their best interests would be protected during the divorce process, and going forward in their lives.

How Do Divorced Parents Handle Summer Vacations?

Summer vacations can be both a boon and a bane for parents. On one hand, summer vacations provide the opportunity for quality family time at the cottage, an overseas vacation destination, or even fun home time with a staycation.

On the other hand, children are freed of school and routines, and working parents may need to arrange for child care, day camps or other activities to keep their children occupied and engaged during the summer.

Here are just a few of the ways divorced parents handle summer vacation time, and provide structure and support for their children:

  • Divide the summer into equal halves – splitting the summer break into two equal halves allows both parents to share in planning summer activities – and the fun of family vacations. It can also provide structure and consistency for the children.
  • Alternating years – some parents choose to alternate full summers. This allows one parent to plan a full slate of activities with the children, and take advantage of all the promise of summer vacations. However, it can also be difficult for the children to not see the other parent for such a long time, so this approach can include weekends, extended weekends, or day activities with the other parent.
  • Week about – the back-and-forth approach of one week on, one week off works for many parents, although it may mean parents and kids spend more time planning and arranging for the moves between households.
  • Block scheduling – if constant moves are a challenge, some parents take the on/off approach, but extend the time blocks, like 2 weeks on / 2 weeks off.

There is no cookie-cutter solution that works for every family situation. You will need to consider work requirements, children’s ages and preferences, traditional summer activities, and other factors to create a summer vacation solution that will work for the entire family.

It’s a good idea to ask for advice from your child support lawyer. Your child support lawyer will be familiar with the ins and outs of your case, and can provide examples of how other parents have handled similar situations to give you additional options that may fit your circumstances.

Family Law Lawyer: What To Do If There Is a Conflict During Summer Vacations

No Parenting Agreement can anticipate every situation. It’s possible one parent may get access to a once-in-a-lifetime vacation opportunity that overlaps with your established schedule. Or perhaps they are burdened with a work responsibility that conflicts with their parenting time and makes them unable to care for the children.

What do you do?

The key is effective communication, and honoring the spirit of the agreement. If one parent asks for an exemption from the established plan, perhaps they can give something to the other parent to make up for the change, and balance the parenting responsibilities – and fun.

Follow the communication and dispute resolution processes agreed upon in your Separation Agreement, and always consider the best interests of the child.

If you can’t come to an agreement, you can always choose to negotiate or mediate the dispute using a family law mediator or your family law lawyer.

Family Law Lawyer, Negotiating Your Divorce, or Ontario Family Court – Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm.

With decades of experience in all aspects of family law, the family law team at the Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm has the knowledge and expertise you need to handle any family law matter. From child support to parenting time, negotiating a separation agreement to arguing your case in court, we will help set you and your family up for success during and after your divorce. Contact us today to discuss your case or family law matter.

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