Going through a divorce is never easy, and it becomes even more challenging when children are involved. Managing summer custody arrangements can be especially difficult for divorced parents in California. With summer vacation quickly approaching, it’s important to have a plan in place to ensure that your child(ren)’s needs are being met. In this blog, we will discuss some tips for managing summer custody arrangements for divorced parents in California.
Child Custody Schedules by Age
One of the most important aspects of managing summer custody arrangements is creating a child custody schedule. This schedule should consider the ages of your child(ren) and their needs. For younger children, it may be beneficial to have shorter but more frequent visits with each parent. This can help maintain consistency and reduce the amount of time your child spends away from either parent.
For older children, longer visits with each parent may be more appropriate. However, it’s important to remember that each child is different and what works for one child may not work for another. It’s essential to communicate with your co-parent to determine what schedule will work best for your child(ren).
When creating a child custody schedule, it’s also important to consider any summer activities your child(ren) may have, such as summer camps or vacations. You should work with your co-parent to ensure that your child(ren) can attend these activities while still adhering to the custody schedule. Sometimes parents may choose to maintain the same schedule that they do during the school year and only modify slightly for each parent to have some vacation time with the child(ren), while other times parents choose to do longer periods of time with one parent (for instance switch to a week on, week off) to allow the children less back and forth and for some travel to happen more easily.
Custody Schedule Based on Child’s Age
Here are some more specific tips for creating a custody schedule based on your child’s age during the summer custody period:
Infants and Toddlers (0-2 years old)
Infants and toddlers require a lot of care and attention. For parents who are sharing summer custody, it’s important to establish a consistent routine for the child. This may mean shorter visits with each parent, but more frequent visits to maintain a sense of stability for the child. Luckily when children are young often your daycare or nanny’s schedules don’t change as drastically during the summer, but there may be time that your child’s daycare is closed, or your nanny is taking vacation so be sure to review those schedules in advance.
Preschoolers (3-5 years old)
Preschoolers are beginning to develop their own interests and routines. Parents should work together to create a summer custody schedule that allows the child to participate in activities they enjoy and maintain the schedules set out during the school year. Preschools are also often not closed for the entire summer which can make planning easier, but they usually do take some sort of summer break that you’ll need to plan around with your co-parent.
Elementary School Children (6-11 years old)
Elementary school children often have more structured schedules with school and extracurricular activities. Parents should create a summer custody schedule that considers the child’s summer school and activity schedule, allowing them to participate in their interests while still spending time with both parents. You’ll also want to discuss far in advance of summer what camps your child might attend and put in place a budget as camps can be VERY expensive!
Middle School and High School Students (12+ years old)
Middle and high school students have more independence and may have their own social and extracurricular activities that they want to do. Parents should work with their child to create a summer custody schedule that allows them to do these activities while still spending time with both parents. Additionally, you may find that some middle and especially high school students don’t want to go to camps in the same way that they used to, but you and your co-parent will need to discuss whether you are comfortable with them being home alone if you’re not going to be home during the summer.
Child Custody Calendar
A child custody calendar can be a helpful tool for managing summer custody arrangements and can be done either using something simple like google calendar or using a co-parenting app. This calendar should include all custody arrangements, including pick-up and drop-off times, schedules, and any changes or modifications to the schedule, especially those for the summer. By having everything in writing, it can help reduce the potential for miscommunication between you and your co-parent
When creating a child custody calendar, especially during the summer, it’s essential to be flexible. Things can come up, and schedules may need to be adjusted. It’s important to work with your co-parent to make any necessary changes to the schedule to ensure that your child(ren)’s needs are being met and being flexible with your co-parent when they need a hand means they’re more likely to be flexible if you need to change something as well.
Depending on the age of your child(ren) it can also be a good idea to share the custody calendar with your child(ren). This can help them feel more involved in the process and reduce any potential stress or anxiety they may be experiencing. It can also help them prepare for any upcoming changes to the schedule. This may mean that you share the online calendar with your older children who are also using technology and probably have their own phones or that you post a physical calendar in your home(s) so that the child(ren) can reference it as needed.
Managing Summer Custody Arrangements
Managing summer custody arrangements can be a challenging experience for divorced parents in California. However, by creating a child custody schedule that considers your child(ren)’s ages and needs and utilizing a child custody calendar, you can help ensure that your child(ren)’s needs are being met. It’s essential to communicate effectively with your co-parent and be flexible when necessary. By doing so, you can create a positive co-parenting experience for you, your co-parent, and your child(ren).
When you and your co-parent need help putting together a summer custody schedule, contact us to ensure that both you and your children have a stress-free summer.
by: Amanda Singer