Summer, especially back to school, is a busy and expensive time for parents. The week before school starts looks like this…making sure the kids have everything they need, including new haircuts, new school clothes, school supply lists, taking advantage of tax free shopping days, and squeezing in a few more vacation activities, if possible. For a co-parent, things can be even more hectic and complicated. Being prepared is key. Here are five things to double check your parenting plan for, if you already have one, or to consider including:
Make sure that summer vacation is divided in a way that is practical for the parties to exercise. If you like taking a long vacation with your kids, you could agree have a consecutive amount of days allotted to you. Both parties should give reasonable notice to each other of the larger blocks of time they want to spend with their kids so they can plan properly. If one parent has more flexibility to care for the kids during the summer, you can also specify this in your parenting plan. Also, give your child enough time after summer traveling to settle back in at home and get ready for the upcoming school year.
Long distance travel. There is very likely a paragraph in your parenting plan about notices and permissions if a parent plans on leaving the city, state or country with the child. If both parents need to agree to the travel, there’s a chance the other parent will not agree. If the Court is the ultimate decisionmaker, give yourself enough time to schedule a hearing before your trip.
Passports. Many parenting plans allow one parent or the other to keep the child’s passport. It is also a good idea to include language that the other parent should not unreasonably withhold consent for travel. If the child does not yet have a passport, the parenting plan can require both parents to sign the application when it’s time to apply. If the parenting plan is silent on this, you can ask the court to order the other parent to sign or to proceed with only one signature if the other parent cannot be found or still refuses to sign.
Summer camp and activities. For many parents, taking the entire summer off for childcare is not an option and alternative childcare must be secured in the form of camps, babysitters, or other activities. If childcare costs are not applicable during the regular school year then parents can become confused over who pays, especially if it’s not factored into already existing child support guidelines. The parenting plan can specify who must be responsible for these additional costs.
School supplies and other costs. New back to school wardrobes are expensive, so are new laptops or tablets and extensive school supply lists. These typically happen once a year and though it happens every year, it may come as a surprise to some parents. Be sure that costs such as these are covered on your
parenting plan, whether it’s paid by one parent or split between both.
Need some help figuring out your parenting plan? We have extensive experience with all of these issues and more, give us a call at (305) 615-1005. We are happy to help!