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Planning a Summer Schedule?

April 16, 2013
Most divorce decrees and custody parenting plans contain a provision which describes parental contact during the summer months. Such a provision often provides for a period of uninterrupted vacation with the child or children for each parent and a revised schedule during the summer months. These provisions often have a date certain for the selection of parenting time for each parent. Sounds great, but what often occurs is that one parent is ready to select their weeks by the cutoff date, and the other is not. Or, one parent never communicates their vacation dates by the cutoff date. How are you to make any plans?

We have entered the summer vacation planning season, the time of year when camp decisions are made, grandparent visits are planned and sports clinics are scheduled. It's pretty hard to schedule activities for your child if you only have half of the information. If your agreement has a date certain for the selection of parenting and vacation time and the date is approaching (it's often April 15th) and you have not heard from your former spouse, now is the time to contact your attorney. Why? If you contact them now, there is time to address the issue …. And still time to determine whether you can place your child in that sports clinic so you won't lose the opportunity without causing a fight with your former spouse.

Sometimes a simple reminder letter to your spouse will fix the problem. If it is a more serious issue, you have time to get into court before summer actually arrives. Court's generally set hearings at least 30 days in advance unless there is a very real emergency. So if you find out that you can't resolve a summer visitation issue, you still have time to schedule a hearing before the summer begins. You should also know that court personnel are people too and they don't skip vacations just because they work in the courthouse. Court houses are open in July, but they may not schedule as many hearings in July as they might schedule at other points during the year. And though you may not believe it, lawyers are people, they have families, and they do go on vacation…..often in July, so you are fighting fewer calendar dates and the possibility that one, if not both attorneys are on vacation when you are having yet another fight with your ex.

Save yourself the trouble as well as the aggravation and call your attorney if you have not heard anything from your ex about your child's summer plans. Everyone is starting to think about the summer. Being proactive now may give you and your children a better chance at having an enjoyable summer.

Karen has an MBA from Boston College and received her law degree from Emory. She has an office in Alpharetta and has practiced family law since 1994. She is a Guardian Ad Litem and active Foster Care Advocate with area courts and is also on the Family Law Executive Committee for the State Bar of Georgia. She frequently speaks state wide on family law issues and can be contacted at 770-952-5000.
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