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Keeping the Summer Sunny

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Many separated, divorcing and divorced parents face the annual task of working with their former spouse to plan the child(ren)’s summer vacation schedule. Many former spouses establish a comprehensive holiday schedule, one which overrides the regular residency schedule. Others take a more flexible approach. It is not uncommon for parents to come to an agreement that each parent will be entitled to have the child(ren) in his/her care during the summer for a certain number of uninterrupted weeks. Often parents will agree to let one another know what weeks each has chosen by a specific date, each parent having first choice of weeks in alternating years.

When (co-)planning the child(ren)’s summer vacation, here are some considerations to keep in mind to help the process go smoothly and minimize the potential for conflict:

  • Do the child(ren) have annual summer commitments, or activities that were part of their pre-separation summer routine?Consider the importance of continuity and familiarity to the child(ren)’s summer plans. For example, if the child(ren) previously attended overnight camp for the month of July, scheduling weeks with the child(ren) during these much-anticipated activities may cause the child(ren) disappointment or incite unwanted conflict.
  • Are there any special dates or occasions during the summer to be cognizant of?It is advisable to make an effort to avoid overlapping one’s summer plans with the child(ren) with occasions important to the other parent, such as his or her birthday, a wedding, bar mitzvah or family reunion that the other parent would otherwise be attending with the child(ren). While it is not always possible to do, making a concerted effort to be accommodating and respectful of the other parent’s plans will go a long way towards avoiding unnecessary conflict.
  • What are the important summer camp registration dates?Keep in mind that summer camp registration opens early (often in February or March), and many popular summer camps fill up quickly. Also, some summer camps offer early registration discounts that can save parents money. Parents can ensure that they are in a position to enroll the child(ren) in their choice of summer camps and maybe even save a bit of money in the process by setting the deadline to advise one another of their selected weeks with the child(ren) well in advance of the commencement of camp registration.
  • What does the child(ren)’s overall summer holiday schedule look like?Keep in mind the child(ren) overall summer calendar when working with the other parent to arrange the scheduling. For example, if both parents have planned back-to-back vacations with the child(ren) with little time in between, it may be exhausting for the child(ren) or difficult for child(ren) to be away from home and friends for such a lengthy period. Of course, it is the child(ren)’s best interests that should be the focus when planning their summer holidays.

About the Author

Sarah was called to the bar in 2015, after completing her articles at an established family law firm in downtown Toronto. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, a Master of Fine Arts from the State University of New York at New Paltz, and a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall Law School.

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