Ah, the sweet scent of sunscreen, the sound of laughter echoing in the backyard, and the promise of endless ice cream cones – summer is undoubtedly a magical time, enjoying the sun, no school for the kiddos, and fewer pressing obligations. If you’re navigating the sunny world of co-parenting after a divorce, fear not! You can take steps to make your summer parenting time schedule more enjoyable for both you and your children.

As most parenting plans incorporate the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (“IPTG”), it’s common for most co-parents to agree that their children will spend equal time over the summer break with each parent. Many final divorce orders or agreements will simply state they will divide the summer by agreement, or pursuant to the IPTG. But what does that mean?

The IPTG propose that the parents divide the summer break in half, proposing that each parent have half of the break, or divide the summer into two “chunks” of time for each parent. If a parent has the children for two weeks or more, so long as they are in town and available, the other parent is entitled to spend alternating weekends and one midweek evening with the children. This schedule can sometimes be jarring to children who maybe only see one parent on alternating weekends and one night midweek.

However, many parents are now creating shared parenting plans to create an equal schedule of time throughout the school year, such as a “5-2-2-5” schedule, wherein one parent always has the children on Monday and Tuesday evenings overnight, the other parent always has the children on Wednesday and Thursday evenings overnight, and the parents alternate weekends from Friday through Monday morning. The natural tendency for parents is to keep this same schedule year-round, including the summer. However, this can create difficulties when a parent wants to put a child in a camp for a week, but they are unable to get their co-parent on board. This means that the child misses out on normal peer interactions and fun activities. It can also mean difficulties if a parent desires to vacation with a child, which can be almost impossible if a parent does not have an uninterrupted week.

The schedule that removes as many possibly difficult transitions as possible but still allows both parents the most flexibility is to split the summer break week-on/week-off. In this schedule, parents can enroll children in camps of their choosing, or allow them to spend time with a grandparent, or feel free to travel without interruption and the need to negotiate make-up time with their co-parent. While additional parenting time may need to be adjusted to accommodate travel and special events, a weekly rotation can often nip any disputes before they arise.

Creating a summer parenting plan after divorce doesn’t have to be daunting; it can be a breeze of fresh air! If your summer parenting plan is not feeling breezy, contact Wanzer Edwards to discuss how it might be improved.

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Elisabeth M. Edwards Attorney
Elisabeth M. Edwards is a founding attorney at Wanzer Edwards, PC where she practices in the areas of family law and divorce, including collaborative law, family mediation and arbitration, and Parenting Coordination. Ms. Edwards completed her undergraduate degree at Hanover College, majoring in English. She went on to earn her Juris Doctor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.