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Summer Parenting Time


Summer vacation offers a unique opportunity for children and their parents to spend quality time together, but for separated or divorced families, planning can be complex. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, like those in many jurisdictions, aim to ensure that both parents enjoy significant time with their children during these precious months. This blog post will explore how to navigate these guidelines to create a summer parenting schedule that prioritizes the well-being of the children involved, offers sample schedules for inspiration, and advises on what to do if disagreements arise. For those facing these challenges, understanding and applying these strategies can pave the way for a summer parenting time plan that considers the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines and the best interests of the children.

1. Understanding the Guidelines: According to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (IPTG—noted below), the parents each have half of the summer. The non-custodial parent determines the dates and submits it to the custodial parent, both verbally and in writing by April 1st each year. If they do not do this by April 1st, the custodial parent then gets to determine the summer schedule. If one parent has the children more than two consecutive weeks at a time, the other parent is entitled to have the children every other weekend and one evening during the week, during that time. Holidays during the summer still follow the same schedule as in the guidelines, regardless of which parent has the children at that time, so scheduling for the holidays should be a consideration in creating the parenting time summer schedule.

2. Next Review the Court Order: After considering the general application of the IPTG, the next step is to review any specific provisions of the court order that may address summer parenting time. Often in cases involving younger children a court may order “week on/week off” for summer parenting time. Some cases maintain the regular parenting time year-round. Some afford a ten (10) day to two (2) week block of uninterrupted time during the summer. Also, holidays may differ in a Court Order when there has been a specific request due to a family celebration, reunion, annual trip, factory shutdown, a parent that works on holidays or otherwise. If “parenting time at a distance” is a factor, then the division of summer will likely involve more time with the non-custodial parent and travel arrangements will need to be considered, as well as the parties’ availability to ensure transportation if driving.

3. Check the School Calendar: Always check for the last day of school and when school will begin again in the fall to determine the number of days to divide. Some school systems have “back to school days” a week prior to school beginning, which the Child should be available to attend especially in middle school and high school. There may be summer band camps in preparation for the new school year that are highly encouraged. Many sports in high school have summer training and some have competitions even before school may begin. Ensuring that your children are prepared for the new school year is important to build into any summer calendar. Some children may have summer school or tutoring to help prepare them for the next school year. All of these considerations should be made with respect to properly preparing your children for the next school year during the summer parenting time period.

4. Special Considerations: There are some considerations that should be made for working parents and their schedules or ability to schedule vacation during the summer. Some parents may have a set vacation during “shutdown” that should be considered to maximize the time the child is able to spend with that parent. Birthdays that fall during the summer must also be considered when creating a summer parenting plan. Childcare, if needed, should also be considered in planning for summer parenting time. The age of the children and the duration that they may be away from a primary parent may also be a consideration for making a parenting time plan. The Opportunity for Additional Parenting time may apply in the summer as well. If the child is old enough to work, this may also be a consideration in planning for the summer parenting time. Considering children with disabilities or health care needs should also be a factor in developing a summer parenting plan, which may require a more consistent schedule.

5. Scheduling Summer Parenting Time: To create an effective summer parenting schedule, it's crucial for parents to initiate discussions well in advance, thoroughly considering the child's existing summer plans, like camps or activities, and preferences. Incorporating flexibility to adjust these plans is essential for accommodating each parent's schedule while prioritizing the child's best interests. This detailed planning process encourages parents to work together, ensuring the summer period is maximized for the child’s benefit, fostering an environment of cooperation and mutual respect despite the complexities that co-parenting might present. If a parent is trying to plan a family event, such as a wedding, that information should be shared as far in advance as possible to accommodate the request.

6. Options for Summer Vacation Scheduling:
For summer vacation planning, parents have various options to ensure quality time with their children. Alternating vacations or specific weeks, dividing summer equally between parents, and allocating a continuous period for the non-custodial parent, especially for those living far away, are common practices. Additionally, integrating special activities or camps, with a clear understanding of responsibility for costs, can enrich the child's summer experience. These arrangements require cooperation and flexibility from both parents to best accommodate the child's needs and interests.

7. Handling Disagreements:
When parents disagree about the summer parenting time schedule, seeking help from their attorney, a parenting coordinator, or mediator can be a constructive step towards resolution. If a compromise doesn't lead to an agreement, parents may need to seek court intervention, where a judge will decide. It's important for parents to remain focused on the well-being of their child throughout this process.

8. Preventing Parenting Time Conflicts:
To minimize conflicts over parenting time, establishing a written agreement can also help clarify expectations and reduce misunderstandings. Including things like exchange times, locations of exchanges, or if a parent will be out of town during a segment of the summer parenting time can reduce conflicts or help to ensure clarity of the schedule. When disagreements arise, focusing on the child's best interests rather than personal differences can guide parents to a more amicable resolution.

Summer is a great time for families to spend some quality time together.  You can ensure a great summer by trying to be proactive in incorporating as much known information that will impact summer parenting time, choosing to be flexible with the other parent, and by focusing on what is best for your children

[1] IPTG Section 2, D, 3:  One-half of the Summer Vacation. The summer vacation begins the day after school lets out for the summer and ends the day before school resumes for the new school year. The time may be either consecutive or split into two (2) segments. The noncustodial parent shall give notice to the custodial parent of the selection by April 1 of each year. If such notice is not given, the custodial parent shall make the selection and notify the other parent. All notices shall be given in writing and verbally. A timely selection may not be rejected by the other parent. Notice of an employer's restrictions on the vacation time of either parent shall be delivered to the other parent as soon as that information is available. In scheduling parenting time, the employer imposed restrictions on either parent's time shall be considered by the parents in arranging their time with their child.

If a child attends a school that has a year-round or balanced calendar, the noncustodial parent’s extended parenting time shall be one-half of the time for fall and spring school breaks. Unless otherwise agreed to by the parents or ordered by the trial court, the noncustodial parent shall exercise parenting time the first half of school break in odd years, and the second half of school break in even years. Absent an agreement of the parties, the first half of the break will begin two hours after the child is released from the school, and the second half of the period will end at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school begins again. Summer Vacation should be shared equally between parents as provided in the paragraph above. Winter break/Christmas vacation should be shared as provided in the Holiday Parenting Time Schedule.

If a child attends summer school, the parent exercising parenting time shall be responsible for the child's transportation to and attendance at school.

During any extended summer period of more than two (2) consecutive weeks with the noncustodial parent, the custodial parent shall have the benefit of the regular parenting time schedule set forth above, which includes alternating weekends and mid-week parenting time, unless impracticable because of distance created by out-of-town vacations.

Similarly, during the summer period when the children are with the custodial parent for more than two (2) consecutive weeks, the noncustodial parent's regular parenting time continues, which includes alternating weekends and mid-week parenting time, unless impracticable because of distance created by out-of-town vacations.

The selection of a parent’s summer parenting time shall not deprive the other parent of the Holiday Parenting Time Schedule below. See Section II. F.

This blog post was written by attorneys at Dixon & Moseley, P. C., who handle the full spectrum of domestic issues, including premarital agreements, paternity matters, divorces, grandparent rights, appeals and adoptions.  We hope it has provided you with useful information. This blog is not a solicitation for legal services or a specific legal advice. It is an advertisement.


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