Parenting Time Plans and Summer Vacation

Parenting Time Plans and Summer Vacation

By: M. Scott Gordon

For many Chicago families, the end of the academic school year is right around the corner. As such, children and teens will be on summer break, which can be a complicated time for divorced parents. You might recall that, under the revised Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), what we previously knew as “visitation” is now described under the law as “parenting time.” The law specifies that “parenting time refers to “the time during which a parent is responsible for exercising caretaking functions and non-significant decision-making responsibilities with respect to the child.” Typically, parenting time is agreed upon within a “parenting plan,” which is a written agreement to which both parents adhere.

But do parenting plans, with regard to allocating parenting time, grow complicated when school is out for summer? According to an article in the Huffington Post, summer vacations often lead to turmoil between divorced parents, especially when one parent wants to alter previously agreed-upon parenting time in order to take the kids somewhere for a vacation, for example. What other obstacles do divorced parents face over the summer months when it comes to parenting time, and what can they do to help ensure that summer vacations go smoothly?

  • Plan Your Vacation Schedule Well in Advance

If you want to take your child on a special vacation that is not accounted for in your current parenting time schedule, make sure to plan well in advance and to double-check with the child’s other parent. The two of you can agree to a vacation plan before you purchase any tickets or make any hotel reservations. And the key may be that you will need to compromise, too. If your former spouse wants to arrange for a vacation at another point or to spend more time with the kids than is allotted in the parenting plan, you should be flexible.

  • Communicate with Your Former Partner

It can be extremely difficult to communicate with your child’s other parent, but it is especially important to keep lines of communication open when you want to be flexible about parenting time over the summer. Staying open to communication—no matter how difficult it might be—also means informing your former spouse about plans to take your child on a vacation that will disrupt the parenting time agreement that you are currently operating under. You should be aware that if you do not make clear what your plans are to your former spouse, your former spouse may attempt to alter the parenting plan in court based upon your actions.

  • Use a Mediator or Parenting Coordinator

If you are having trouble resolving your summer schedule and want to work through issues of parenting time with your former spouse in a productive manner, you should consider using a mediator or parenting coordinator. It can be helpful to have “a neutral decision-maker” to respond to issues that you and the other child’s parent are facing. While private mediators can add to the costs of working through parenting time disagreements, it can be worth it.

  • Contact an Experienced Chicago Parenting Time Lawyer

If you continue to have questions about addressing your parenting plan or cannot come to an agreement about parenting time, an experienced family law attorney in the Chicago area can help. Contact M. Gordon & Associates today for more information.