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Summer break can be fraught with difficulty for a lot of parents -- even under the best of circumstances. When you're divorced, custody issues also come into play. That can make every summer break a hassle unless you take steps to prevent problems before they start.

Put summer break in your parenting plan

A good parenting plan takes into account as many anticipated questions as possible -- and summer break should be one of them. When you're working on your parenting plan during your divorce, you and your spouse need to address the following questions (at minimum):

  • Will the usual custody schedule work during summer break? If so, why not?
  • What child care does each parent have arranged for work hours over the summer?
  • At what age can the child be left alone? For how long?
  • Would it be smarter (and simpler) to have a different custody schedule for summer break than the rest of the year?

While it might seem cumbersome to have to consider all of these details in advance, doing so can absolutely fend off problems in the future.

Don't forget to address vacations

Summer is also vacation time for a lot of families. You and your spouse need to come to some agreements regarding how vacations will work. For example:

  • Can parenting time be "traded" in order to accommodate vacation plans?
  • How much notice is needed if one parent wants to take the kids out of state?
  • Are there any restrictions on what type of activities the child can do on vacation (dune buggy races, hang gliding, etc.) that one parent wants to address?

Keep in mind that whatever goes into that parenting plan is a legal agreement and will become an order of the court. You can only stray from the agreement without a formal modification of the parenting plan if the other parent agrees -- so make sure that you fully understand the agreement from the start.

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