Summer Visitation Plans and Child Custody

Summer should be a fun time for parents and children, but when a family is fractured by divorce, working out a summer parenting time schedule can be difficult. If parents live long distances apart, scheduling becomes much more complex, as it does if the divorce is a hostile one.

Illinois child parenting time (previously called visitation) guidelines are flexible, so as long as you and your co-parent are in agreement, you can come up with a summer schedule that suits the lifestyles of both parents and children. A good lawyer will help develop scheduling plans in advance so you don’t run into problems, and if you are not in agreement with your ex-spouse, having a lawyer on your side will make it easier to work things out to benefit both you and your children.

The compassionate and experienced Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., understand the stresses of divorce and recognize that children’s well-being is paramount.  We offer a free initial consultation, and to examine your individual situation and craft parenting time and custody solutions that are best for you and your children.


Illinois Custody and Visitation Schedule Guidelines

The laws about Illinois parenting time and visitation are found in Part VI of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.  Since the guidelines are flexible, judges generally prefer for parents to work out the schedules between themselves or their attorneys, but if parents can’t cooperate, the court will come up with a schedule.

Once you are in agreement on a schedule, it’s a good idea to put it on a custody calendar that lays out clearly the time each parent will have with the children.  Both parents should receive a copy of the schedule so there is no confusion.

There should be certain provisions about scheduling placed in the parenting agreement that parents agree to follow.  A common provision is the right of first refusal – a parent must first offer the other parent the opportunity to take the child if the residential parent is leaving the child with a child-care provider.  Other provisions might be about travel arrangements – which parent will be transporting the child, and where the exchange will take place.

Typical Summer Schedule Arrangements

In many parenting time arrangements, the child lives with one parent and visits the other parent. The amount and schedule of visitation should depend on the child’s age, the needs of the child, and what works for the parents.

This arrangement may change during summer and school holiday vacations, when the child may have the opportunity to live with the non-residential parent and visit the other parent.

To make a summer residential schedule, you first decide on the time frame — when the summer break schedule will start and when it will stop. Then, based on the child’s age and needs, the time of the child’s school break, and the parents’ work and social schedules, a summer residential schedule that works for everyone can be agreed upon.

Here are some examples of summer break schedules:

  • Swapping time with the parents’ time for the summer break schedule. Any usual residential schedule can be swapped for the summer, providing parents can make arrangements for proper supervision of the child. For example, if the usual visiting time scheduled is an alternating weekend schedule where the child lives with the mother and visits the father every other weekend, the child can spend the summer living with the father and visiting the mother every other weekend.
  • Giving one parent all of the time during the summer break schedule. This plan is particularly useful when there are long distances between parents’ residences, which make it impossible for children to see the non-residential parent often during the school year. The normally non-residential parent can now be with the child full-time during the entire summer, or during a block of time for part of the summer.
  • Creating a new residential schedule for the summer break. For example, parents can alternate having the child every two or every three weeks during the summer.
  • Using vacation time. Parents can stick to their ordinary schedule during the summer, but can take a block of scheduled time in order to take the child on vacation.
  • Alternating years. Schedules do not have to be locked in stone.  There can be two schedules that alternate, or schedules can be varied on different years, as long as parents agree.

Factors Affecting Schedules

When developing parenting time schedules, there are many factors that may come into play, including:

  • Distance — Long-distance visitation creates problems in direct proportion to the distances involved. It’s easier to create visitation schedules when distances are drivable.  When flying is necessary, especially when the child is too young to fly unaccompanied, factors to consider include who will travel with or transport the child, who is going to pay for travel expenses, who is in charge of making travel arrangements, where the visiting parent will stay, etc.
  • Facilities – Is the normally non-custodial parent able to provide adequate care and recreation for the children? Does that parent have a work schedule that allows for quality time with the children, and can that parent provide day care, camp, or other supervised activities for the children while the parent is at work?
  • Age – Since babies and toddlers forget easily, they need to see each parent as frequently as possible. Older children are more flexible, but teenagers need a schedule that fits with their social life and activities.
  • Each parent’s schedule and lifestyle – Consider each parent’s work schedule, social life, and other obligations. Does the parent have a new partner, and how does the partner relate to the children?


Since issues regarding summer vacations and parenting time are so vital to a child’s well-being, it makes sense to seek legal counsel before agreeing to any parenting schedule.  The skilled Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. know the laws and the system and can guide you through the process.  We represent and advise clients in all types of child custody matters, and there is no charge for your initial consultation

Delaying can only complicate your situation, so contact us today.  We represent clients in DuPage County and the Chicagoland area.  Your free initial consultation at our office can be scheduled either online or by calling 630-305-0222.