Summer Visitation Schedules, Plans and Child Custody

Summer visitation schedules can be a point of contention between divorced parents.

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. Summer vacations mean changing schedules, needs for childcare, and challenges to the demands that working parents face.  It may be necessary or desirable to shift the balance of time children spend with each parent. If parents live close by and have a friendly co-parenting arrangement, vacation schedules may be worked out amicably. However, if parents a live long distance apart, scheduling becomes much more complex, as it does if the divorce is a hostile one.

Illinois 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 can help you examine your individual situation and craft parenting time and custody solutions that are best for you and your children.

Call us today with any child care or divorce issues at (630) 305-0222.

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What is a Good Summer Visitation Schedule?

Our Family Lawyers Can Help Find the Ideal Arrangement for All Parties

The ideal summer vacation arrangement varies greatly, depending on your individual family situation. In all cases, parents should first consider the best interests of the child. It is always better if parents can come to an agreement on their own as to how parenting time will be allocated, by considering factors such as:

  • The distance between the two homes
  • The child’s summer school, camp, and extracurricular activity schedules and needs
  • The age of the child and appropriate available age-related activities
  • Both parents’ work and vacation schedules and amount of time that can be spent with the child
  • Help available from grandparents or other relatives.

If you and your co-parent cannot agree, the courts will make child parenting time determinations for you, and this may not be the most desirable solution. In making a decision, the courts use the “best interest of the child” standard by considering these factors:

  • The wishes of the parents
  • The wishes of the child, depending on the child’s age, maturity and education
  • The child’s interaction with the parents
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school and community
  • The mental and physical health of all parties
  • Any past and ongoing acts of violence by a parent against the other parent or a child
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child.

Our Woodridge custody lawyers can explain each of these issues in greater detail. Call Wolfe & Stec at (630) 305-0222 for a free consultation about your case.

Family Lawyers Know Illinois Custody and Visitation Schedule Guidelines

The laws about Illinois parenting time and visitation are found in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/).  Since the guidelines are flexible, judges generally prefer for parents to work out the schedules between themselves or with their attorneys, but if parents can’t cooperate, the court will come up with a schedule.

Illinois’ custody and visitation laws distinguish between physical and legal custody. Parents with “physical custody” live with the child. Parents with “legal custody” can make major medical, educational, or religious decisions on the child’s behalf. Possible custody arrangements are:

  • one parent has sole legal and physical custody
  • joint custody to both parents
  • other combinations, such as one parent having physical custody and both parents sharing legal custody.

In Illinois, the parent who has primary physical custody of the child is designated as the “custodial parent.” The other parent, even if sharing physical custody of the child, is called the “noncustodial parent.” {750 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/602.5 (2020)}.

Summer Visitation for Non-custodial Parent

The law recognizes that a child’s best interest is to spend adequate time with each parent as long as it doesn’t pose a risk to the child’s safety, stability, or well-being. This means the noncustodial parent should have reasonable visitation, depending on the family’s unique circumstances. In most cases, a noncustodial parent is entitled to at least the minimum visitation schedule with visitation one week night per week, overnights every other weekend, and an extended summer visit.

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 childcare provider. Other provisions might be about travel arrangements – which parent will be transporting the child and where the exchange will take place.

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 distance involved. It’s easier to create visitation schedules when the distance is 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 daycare, 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?

The amount and schedule of visitation should depend on the child’s age, the needs of the child, and what works for the parents. Arrangements 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.

How to Deal with Summer Visitation

During the school year, it may be in a child’s best interest to spend the majority of the time during the week with one parent. During the summer, when children do not have as many schedule commitments, it may be desirable to grant more time to the parent who has less time throughout the rest of the year. In addition, if parents plan family vacations or trips during the summer, it should be addressed in the parenting plan. Planning for childcare during the summer must also be addressed if both parents work full time.

To make a summer residential schedule, parents should first decide on the timeframe — 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 should be agreed upon.

There are Several Summer Schedule Arrangements that May Work.

Examples of typical summer break schedules include:

  • 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 is a long distance 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 written in stone.  There can be two schedules that alternate, or schedules can be varied in different years, as long as parents agree.

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

To Deal with Summer Visitation – Contact our Skilled Family Law Attorneys Today

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 attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. 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.

Call for your free initial consultation today at 630-305-0222.

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