Child Custody,  Coparenting

Co-Parenting and Summer Access

It’s summer. The glory days of youth. Most kids are out of school at least part of the season and they’ll be ready to spend time with both parents. Have you read your divorce/custody decree about who’s supposed to have your child and when during this time?

No? You may want to.

In most instances, you’re going to see that the parent who does not have primary custody should have a good chunk of the summer. Read the details carefully.

If you’re the non-primary parent, you may be able to choose when you want the child, but you probably have to give notice (usually in writing) in advance. The amount of notice may differ depending on your order. If you don’t give notice, then you probably have a certain time period that automatically kicks in. (Take note of the mays and the probablys. Each court order is different, so make sure you know what yours says. If you have any doubt about the legal-eze speak, ask your attorney.)

You need to be prepared to have your child during that time period and you’ll need to make arrangements for child care (if applicable) while you work. If you live close enough, it may be best that your child continue in the child care program he or she is already familiar with as the less upheaval for your child the better.

What if you forgot to give notice that you want a different time? Is it okay to ask for it? Of course it is – usually.* In most instances, as long as both parties agree, you can change things up to suit yourselves. However, if the other party has made plans already based on you not giving notice, don’t argue about it. You goofed and you’ll know better next year.

So what if your child’s other parent didn’t meet the deadline for notice, but now wants to have your son and/or daughter at a different time for a family vacation? If you don’t have plans, then why not let them have it?

“But they didn’t do what they were supposed to!” Stomps foot.

Ummm…yeah. We’re all human and make mistakes. I’ve seen people not budge from their stance (with no real reason or other plans) just because the other parent missed a deadline by a day. What the heck? These people were more concerned about control and “getting to” the other parent than they were in what was best for their children.

Why drag out the drama or deprive your child of something fun to do? If you made plans already, then don’t sweat it. Just try to work out something amicable that will keep the arguing to a minimum.

Help your kids make great conflict-free memories! Image by korycheer at morguefile.com


If you’re the primary parent, you may have options to have your child for a weekend or two during this portion of time he or she is with their other parent. But you may also be required to give notice in writing by a certain time, so be aware of the particulars of your court order.

Enjoy your children this summer and allow them to have peace and a pleasant time with both of you without a lot of fuss. After all – what memories do you want your child to have for the summer? Mom and dad fighting? Again. Or do you want them to recall fun and laughter with both parents? Seems like a no-brainer to me.

* I’ve not seen one, but I suppose there could be a court order out there that prohibits changing it even when you both mutually agree. So just read your order carefully.

** My boring but necessary disclaimer for these types of posts: I am not an attorney and am not offering legal advice. I am merely giving my opinions based upon nearly 20 years working with family and children within the family court system. I hope you find it helpful. But in all matters, refer to your court order and seek advice from your attorney should you have any questions.


Originally published on rhondahopkins.com. This post has been edited for this site.


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