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Jun 30, 2024

Start Thinking About Summer Visitation Schedules

Jun 30, 2024 - Family Law by |

Summer is here again, and it’s time to create a summer child custody visitation schedule that works for everybody in the family. Putting together a schedule requires respect, patience and understanding by all family members. Here are some suggestions to help you think about and plan a successful summer custody visitation schedule.

The Importance of a Summer Schedule

Summer vacation is a unique time in a child’s life, providing a break from the routine of school and an opportunity for relaxation, exploration, and family bonding. It is crucial for parents to recognize the significance of this period and strive to create a schedule that supports the child’s development and happiness. A well-thought-out summer custody schedule can:

  • Promote Stability and Routine: Even though summer is less structured than the school year, having a predictable schedule can provide a sense of security for children.
  • Enhance Parent-Child Relationships: Extended periods with each parent can strengthen the bond and allow for quality time together.
  • Accommodate Special Events: Summer often includes vacations, camps, and special activities that can be enriching for children.

Key Considerations for Planning Your Summer Custody Schedule

When planning a summer custody schedule, consider the following factors:

  1. The Child’s Best Interest: The child’s needs and preferences should be the primary focus. Think about their comfort, happiness, and any special activities they might want to participate in during the summer. Maryland’s Rule 9-204.1 set out a number of non-binding and non-exclusive “best interest” factors that parents can consider in their various custody situations.  
  2. Parents’ Work Schedules: Understand each parent’s work commitments and availability. This helps in designing a practical schedule that maximizes time with the child while accommodating each parent’s obligations.
  3. Vacations and Camps: Many families plan vacations or send children to camps during the summer. If you are recently divorced or separated, be aware that your child may be hesitant to be away at this time, however, while he or she is adjusting to the divorce.
  4. Consistency with the Regular Schedule: While summer allows for more flexibility, try to maintain some consistency with the regular school-year schedule. This helps in reducing confusion and maintaining a sense of normalcy for the child.
  5. Distance Between Homes: If parents live far apart, travel time and expenses become significant considerations. Plan the schedule in a way that minimizes stress and inconvenience for the child.
  6. Child’s Age and Preferences: Older children might have their own preferences and social commitments. In most cases, it’s important to include them in the planning process, which can make them feel valued and respected.

Common Summer Custody Schedule Options

There are several common approaches to summer custody schedules. Here are a few examples:

  1. Extended Time with Each Parent: One common approach is to split the summer into large blocks of time, allowing each parent to have extended, uninterrupted periods with the child. For example, one parent might have custody for the first half of the summer and the other parent for the second half.
  2. Alternating Weeks: Another approach is to alternate weeks between the parents. This allows for more regular contact with both parents, which can be beneficial for younger children who might struggle with longer separations.
  3. Alternating Days: This schedule alternates the days each parent has the child, such as two days with one parent, two days with the other, and then three days with the first parent. This can be adapted for longer periods during the summer. Many family counselors suggest this type of schedule as being best for toddlers and small children, as it keeps the child in regular contact with both parents. 
  4. Custom Schedule: Create a customized schedule that fits the specific needs of your family. This could be a mix of extended periods, alternating weeks, and regular exchanges.

Tips for Successful Scheduling

  • Early planning and communication are important. Start discussions about the summer schedule well in advance. This allows time for negotiation and prevents last-minute conflicts.
  • It’s important to show flexibility. Schedules may need to be adjusted due to a child’s camp dates or unplanned work trips for a parent. 
  • Document your agreement. Get any changes in writing. This will avoid misunderstandings and provide a reference if disputes arise. 
  •  Always keep the focus on what is best for the child. Their comfort, happiness, and developmental needs should guide your decisions.
  • Make sure that fun and relaxation are part of the plan. Children need to recharge after the school year and engage in enjoyable activities.
  • Check in regularly with the other parent to see how things are progressing and to make any adjustments that might be necessary. 

Handling Potential Conflicts

Despite best efforts, conflicts may arise. Here are some strategies to handle them effectively:

  1. Mediation: If disagreements occur, consider using a mediator to facilitate discussions. A neutral third party can help both parents focus on the child’s best interest and find common ground.
  2. Family Therapy: Engaging in family therapy can be beneficial, especially if the child is struggling with the changes. A therapist can provide strategies for coping and improving communication.
  3. Legal Advice: In cases where conflicts cannot be resolved amicably, seek legal advice. Your Bethesda child custody attorney can provide guidance based on your custody agreement and Maryland state laws.
  4. Focus on Positive Communication: Maintain a respectful and positive communication tone with your co-parent. Avoid blame and focus on finding solutions.

Contact a Bethesda Child Custody Attorney 

Creating a summer custody visitation schedule is a collaborative effort that requires patience, flexibility, and a child-centered approach. By considering the child’s needs, parent’s availability, and family plans, co-parents can design a schedule that promotes stability, enhances relationships, and allows for a memorable and enjoyable summer. Early planning, open communication, and a willingness to adapt are key to successfully navigating this process and ensuring that the summer is a positive experience for everyone involved.

At the Law Offices of Brandon Bernstein, we have your family’s best interests in mind. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at 240-395-1418, or GET IN TOUCH ONLINE. Contact us today.