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It's time to start thinking about a summer visitation schedule

The rapid approach of summer signals a shift in visitation schedules. For kids summer means a transition to outdoor fun and games instead of the stifling routines of the school year. But for parents the warmer months represent a visitation scheduling challenge. Planning scheduled summer visitation and trips in advance alleviates the stress of the unknown.

Review the custody agreement

The courts refer to the non-custodial parent's time with the child as visitation. The courts award visitation time much like child custody, keeping the best interests of the child in mind. Custody agreements frequently address visitation schedules.

Before making any plans, thoroughly review your custody agreement and make sure it does not have any limitations in place. This is especially important if you are planning a destination trip out of the state or the country. Even if you are the primary custodial parent, seek written consent from the other parent. Having permission granted in writing prevents needless potential disputes.

Plan travel early and be flexible

Check with the other parent before booking a vacation and ask in advance. Resorts and hotel reservations fill up quickly and deposits may not be refundable. A polite request made well in advance will elicit more consideration than one sprung on the other parent last minute.

Be flexible with special date requests. For instance, if you wanted to spend Independence Day with your child than perhaps you could trade for Labor Day. If you are not the primary custodial parent each significant day surrendered may feel unfair, but decide which time is more important to you and be willing to conceded something else of value. It is also best to be flexible about custody leading up to and following a trip with one parent, especially if the trip overlaps with the other parents scheduled visitation time.

Encourage contact

Have a plan for your child to contact the other parent while they are with you and expect your child to miss the other parent. Changes in routine bring about stress for children. Remember, your child may be having a great time with you, but a little homesickness is normal. For your child, the changes in routine are considerable including sleeping in a different bed and being away from the primary parent for longer intervals.

Planning a workable summer visitation schedule involves flexibility and due consideration from both parents. A little planning and adaptability go a long way towards creating lasting summer memories with your child.

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