Don't Sweat the Summer Schedule
Parents should be thinking about all the summer fun they will be having with their children like summer vacations, days by the pool, BBQs, fireworks, and just a slower pace. Sadly, scheduling summer parenting time can sometimes quickly cool things down.
I won't sugarcoat, when it comes to how the summer schedule should work, the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines ("IPTG") really failed parents here. The 5 biggest gripes are:
The wording is confusing - consecutive or split into 2 segments, but if consecutive for more than 2 weeks then the regular parenting time schedule is in place, and year round or balanced, and oh yeah summer school...
3 pesky holidays (Memorial, Father's Day, and 4th of July) love to throw things off, do they count towards the "one-half" division, or is it a holiday that a parent gets outside the "one-half" division?
Employment - just because the kids are off, does not mean the parents are off. Does the opportunity for additional parenting time apply, should it apply, what about summer camps or day camps, who are responsible for paying those costs? Should the child miss out of summer camp or with long-distance grandparents just because the other parent wants the opportunity for additional parenting time? Was the employer imposed restrictions considered? What does consideration even entail?
Odd numbers - heaven forbid school corporations tailor their schedules so summer break has an even numbered of overnights, why does it always seems to be odd overnights?Therefore, who should get the extra night? Why does the custodial parent who gets more overnights overall wants to quibble over one or two overnights during the summer?
April 1st is too soon - the noncustodial parent is required to submit their proposed summer parenting time schedule by April 1st, but do any of us really know what summer plans we will have two to three months out? Anything could arise during this time, things could change, jobs could be gained or loss, summer school could happen, the kids could enroll in camps or activities, so good bye schedule.
All of that sounds like a headache right? Who wants to worry about all of that each year? Until changes are made, the best advice I have been able to tell my clients is this:
1 Week On & 1 Week Off.
Simple & easy to remember.
No need make a schedule. Holidays still take place and that way it usually falls so each parent gets their time the next year. I suggest eliminating the opportunity for additional parenting time unless you and your ex are on great terms and communicate effectively (which if you are, you probably aren't reading this blog looking for tips). Sometimes having this schedule kick off the Friday before Memorial Weekend is a great idea, who's ever holiday it is let that parent have the children the Friday before Memorial Weekend till the Friday after Memorial Weekend and then the next parent gets them for their one week on and so forth.
Now of course, I understand this cannot work for everyone. There may be some serious hostility, concerns, and distance at play and to that I say plan ahead and stick to a schedule every year. For the parents that the one week on and off schedule cannot work, I have broken down my 5 gripes to hopefully help in either making, understanding, or accepting the summer schedule.
*All below scenarios is based on the idea summer begins the Friday before Memorial Weekend and is 60 overnights long. *
Confused wording - the idea is that each parent would have substantial time with their children to enjoy summer. A consecutive schedule means a parent will exercise exactly 30 consecutive days with the children during summer. If this schedule is elected, then the parent not exercising 30 days gets the children every other weekend and midweek for 4 hours. Holidays still take precedence. So if your Mother and have the first 30 days in June, Father still gets Father's Day Weekend. Or if Father has the first 30 days in June and Mother's "every other weekend" would be Father's Day weekend, she does not get it that weekend as it is a holiday weekend. A 2 segment schedule is the most confusing to schedule, but can be the best schedule in high conflict families. 2 segments is technically 4 total segments, but each parent gets 2 segments during the summer break. So it could look something like Father gets the first 15 days of summer, then Mother gets the next 15 days, then Father gets the next 15 days, then Mother gets the last 15 days - 2 15 day segments each.
3 pesky holidays - Memorial Weekend, Father's Day and 4th of July. These will always interfere with summer. Know the dates and whose holiday it is - Memorial Weekend: 6 P.M. Friday to 7 P.M. Monday. Custodial parents in odd numbered years and noncustodial parents in even numbered years. Father's Day Weekend: 6 P.M. Friday to 6 P.M. Sunday. 4th of July: 6 P.M. July 3rd to 10 A.M. July 5th. Custodial parents in even-numbered years and noncustodial parents in odd-numbered years.
Employment - the opportunity for additional parenting time really should not apply during the summer as it is rushing the kids around everywhere, rushing the parents everywhere and unless the parents can communicate and agree, it is just causing more conflict. Let the kids spend time with grandparents, relatives, or friends. If they are trustworthy, let them hang out at home some days. Perhaps encourage them to volunteer or get a summer job. There are endless possibilities instead of additional parenting time and transporting them around in a car for part of the day.
Odd numbers - summer break is rarely divided evenly. One parent will always end up with one extra day. A safe rule of thumb is the non-custodial parent should have the extra night, as the custodial parent has the majority of the time during the year. Imagine the money and headache both parties save by not fighting over 24 hours.
April 1st is too soon - knowing vacation dates, remembering vacation dates, even planning for vacation this soon is a lot to remember and do, but if you're the noncustodial parent just do it. Submit the schedule by April 1st and not a minute late. If you're the custodial parent, just wait to plan vacation until you get the schedule. Or if you cannot wait and need to plan ahead, be considerate and talk about it with the other parent. Courts hate when parents do not communicate and even dislike it more when a parent withholds a family vacation from the other. Be flexible with each other.
Try to keep in mind, summer is suppose to be fun. Enjoy it with your children. Fighting over a few extra hours or giving some extra time is not worth sweating.
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