Summer Parenting Time Schedule
We know it is hard to fathom that summer is almost here. Today was the first full day of spring and the weather is not cooperating, but summer is on its way. And with summer just around the corner, so is the exchange of the summer parenting time schedule. This blog will tackle what the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (IPTG) says on this issue, our office's interpretation of the guidelines, and some hints and ideas on preparing the schedule for exchange.
What Does the IPTG Say?
Per the IPTG, summer break is considered extended parenting time and begins when a child is 5 years old and older. (Children under 5 years old technically do not fall under the division of summer parenting time, but you should follow what your Court order says on this topic.)
The guideline specifically states as to the division of summer parenting that,
"The summer vacation begins the day after school lets out for the summer and ends the day before school resumes for the new school year. The time may be either consecutive or split into two (2) segments. The noncustodial parent shall give notice to the custodial parent of the [summer] selection by April 1st of each year. If such notice is not given, the custodial parent shall make the selection and notify the other parent. All notices shall be given in writing and verbally. A timely selection may not be rejected by the other parent."
This section of the IPTG is dealing with three important things:
How summer vacation is defined
How summer vacation is to be divided
How summer vacation selection shall be communicated
How Summer Vacation is Defined: IPTG says summer vacation begins the day after the child's last day of school and ends the day before the child returns to school.
How Summer Vacation is to be Divided: You divide the summer vacation equally between you and the other parent. To figure out how to do this you will need to count the number of OVERNIGHTS there are between the last day and the first day (do not count the night before school). You will divide the overnights equally between each parent.* The IPTG goes on to say the parenting time shall be divided either 1) consecutively or 2) into two segments. Now this is where things tend to get messy when making the schedule.
Consecutively: means the parenting time for each parent would run for consecutive weeks. Say the child is out of school for 60 overnights. Parent 1 would have the first 30 overnights and Parent 2 would have the second 30 overnights - consecutive overnights/weeks. We highly recommend this division if you are dealing with high conflict co-parenting.
Two Segments: this one can be tricky, what this means is each parent would have 2 segments totaling 4 segments. Using the 60 overnights, Parent 1 would have the first 15 overnights, then Parent 2 would have the second 15 overnights, then Parent 1 would have the third 15 overnights, and Parent 2 would have the forth 15 overnights. This is what this division means. Many parents will try to interpret it differently, but this is the most simplest way to define this division. Unless you and the other parent are good at communicating division of parenting time, we do not recommend this division.
Every Other Week: you are probably thinking, "what? I did not see a 3rd one above!" You are 100% correct, the IPTG does not have a third division. However, if parents are agreeable and both working, we have found this division is the easiest and the one parents seems to really enjoy for that reason. If you believe the other parent would like this idea, we recommend you propose this as a second option to one of the above.
How Summer Vacation Selection Shall Be Communicated: the noncustodial parent shall make their schedule and present it to the custodial parent no later than APRIL 1ST (please always keep this date marked everywhere). If the noncustodial parent does not give you the schedule by April 1st, then the custodial parent can make the schedule (per the same guidelines above). No matter who makes the selection, the summer parenting time schedule shall be exchanged in writing AND verbally. Now, the writing part is nonnegotiable, the verbal part - ehhhh. If there is a protective order, court order limiting communications, or you and the other parent trust each other the verbal part is really not necessary.
It is very important to stress and point out, if the noncustodial parent makes a timely and proper selection by April 1st, the custodial parent CANNOT reject the summer parenting time schedule provided to them. This also applies the other way, if the custodial parent has to make the schedule because the noncustodial did not provide one by April 1st, the noncustodial parent CANNOT reject the custodial parent's selection. Please understand this, as we see too many custodial parents each year just say "no" when a noncustodial parent provides their timely and proper schedule.
There are several other provisions in the IPTG as to summer parenting, such as:
"If a child attends summer school, the parent exercising parenting time shall be responsible for the child's transportation to and attendance at school."
"During any extended summer period of more than two (2) consecutive weeks with the non-custodial parent, the custodial parent shall have the benefit of the regular parenting time schedule set forth above, which includes alternating weekends and mid-week parenting time, unless impracticable because of distance created by out of town vacations. Similarly, during the summer period when the children are with the custodial parent for more than two (2) consecutive weeks, the non-custodial parent's regular parenting time continues, which includes alternating weekends and mid-week parenting time, unless impracticable because of distance created by out of town vacations."
"The selection of a parent’s summer parenting time shall not deprive the other parent of the Holiday Parenting Time Schedule."
I am not going to address the summer school provision as we have rarely ran into any problems with parents abiding by this guideline. Luckily, it seems most parents take their child(ren)'s education serious. The other two provisions though have caused quite a bit of issues in cases.
More than 14 days: If you select the consecutive division or if your two segments result in a parent having the child(ren) for more than 14 days, then the noncustodial parent gets the child(ren) per the parenting time they were awarded in the order (This is typically a midweek visitation and every other weekend, but refer to your order for the correct parenting time). The custodial parent will get a midweek visitation and every other weekend. Again, this provision is not an issue if the parents agree to the every other weekend schedule.
Summer Holidays: The provision on summer parenting time causes disruptions to schedules, the three holidays are Memorial Day, Father's Day, and 4th of July (not including parents or kids birthdays which may arise and do apply if they take place during summer). We highly suggest when you make the calendar you take into consideration the holidays and give the parent the week it is their holiday too. It just reduces arguments, confusion, back and forth, and will save you money. And who does not like that?
I know that was A LOT of information, but if you can get the summer parenting time schedule down pat, you will get to enjoy your summer. We all know after this year, a nice relaxing summer is needed.
*Our office always says the noncustodial parent should get that extra night as they have less overnights with the child(ren) during the year. This is not every attorneys or courts stance, it is simply ours and what we encourage our clients to do.