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A Guide to Co-Parenting During the Summer

With homework, extracurricular activities, and other social events, the school year can be stressful for the children and parents navigating separation or divorce. After a couple semesters, you may feel like you have gotten the hang of working with your ex to keep the school year running smoothly.

Enter: Summer Break.

While this is a time meant for family fun and relaxation, it can present new challenges for split families. There are indeed nuances to this parenting season. Read on learn what an experienced family law attorney has to say in response to questions on the subject.

Is my summer parenting time schedule different than my school year schedule?

Possibly. If you are following your court’s Local Rule parenting time schedule (which can typically be found on your county court’s website), then it is likely there is a different schedule during summer vacation than during the school year. Make sure you are aware of the specific schedule well in advance of summer, as you may need to make necessary arrangements and coordinate plans with your child’s other parent.

If you’re not following your court’s Local Rule schedule, you will need to refer to your court order to determine if there is an alternative schedule for summer vacation. If none is specified, then you’ll continue to follow your normal schedule year-round.

What if my child has camps or other activities during the summer?

If your child’s camps or activities fall during your parenting time, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are in attendance. If, however, your ex enrolled the children in an activity or camp on your time without your permission, it is possible that you do not have to take them. You will want to refer to your court order to determine if that is the case.

What if my child must attend summer school?

Regardless of on whose time summer school falls – even if it happens to fall more “unfairly” on your time – you will need to ensure that your children attend and are on time. When your child returns home from school, make sure that they complete their schoolwork and share any notes from school with your ex.

 Can I take my child on vacation?

That depends. If you are following your court’s Local Rule, there is a good chance it provides for some vacation time, but you will want to read it thoroughly. If you are not following the Local Rule refer to your court order.

If vacation time has not been defined, and if you and your ex are able to reach an agreement otherwise, a vacation is still possible.

Can I take my child on an international vacation?

If you have a vacation provision, whether in your court order or Local Rule, you will also want to check if there are any restrictions on travel destinations. If there are not, the next possible roadblock is securing a passport. If you have sole custody, then you will be able to obtain a passport for your child without the consent of your ex. If, however, you share custody, then you will need your ex’s permission and cooperation to obtain a passport.

Do I have to force my teenage child to exercise parenting time with their other parent?

In Ohio, there is no age at which children can dictate the parenting time schedule. So, whether your child is 7 or 17, you need to encourage and facilitate, in any way you can, parenting time with their other parent. Of course, putting a toddler into the car is much easier (usually) than shoving a 6’2” teenager into the car. If your child is obstinate about spending time with their other parent, do your best to encourage the visit (yes, bribery is allowed).

 What if my work schedule makes the summer schedule difficult for me to exercise?

Unless you have an agreement otherwise, in the event you cannot exercise your court-awarded parenting time, it is your responsibility to secure childcare. Optimally, you would first offer the time to your ex prior to securing said childcare.

 Do I have to continue paying child support when I have summer parenting time with my child?

Yes. Child support orders take the parenting time order into consideration, whether through the calculation itself or deviation factors that may be considered by the court. Even if your ex does not have parenting time with your child, they still have expenses associated with caring for them (e.g., housing, utilities, etc.).

Please keep in mind that most questions regarding parenting time, whether during the summer or otherwise, are not black and white. It is recommended that you consult with a family law attorney when you have questions specific to your family’s circumstances.