Summer can be a busy time for kids, especially for children of divorce who are trying to go on vacation with two sets of parents. One of the most misunderstood provisions in a custody order is which parent has the right to sign the child up for summer activities. The legal answer is simple. If it is your possession period, you have the right to determine what activities your child is involved in. This means that if the other parent signed the child up for classes, camps, or day care during your time, the child doesn’t need to attend them unless you want to bring them. You can select your own camps, classes and day care for your portion of the summer. You can send your child to visit family members, or you can enjoy your child’s company yourself. You also have no right to expect the other parent to provide activities or day care during your scheduled time.

The legal answer is simple: if it is your possession period, you have the right to determine what activities your child is involved in.

I want to give a word of caution about insisting on all of “your time”, though. Many summer activities are not within the parents’ control. For instance, the other parent may not have a right to force you to take the child to summer band camp during your time, but the band instructor will have a right to penalize your child’s grade for not attending an event required for his class. If your child lives for boy scouts and the troop has their big camp out scheduled for the middle of your possession period, you might want to talk with leader about going along yourself, or you could try to arrange with the other parent for you to have a different week, or maybe you just give up the time because it is something that matters to your child. The summer is split almost exactly in half, so a child with a lot of outside interests will almost always need to schedule activities during each parent’s summer periods.

Be prepared to be flexible.

A child with “happily divorced” parents almost never follows the formal possession schedule exactly. This is because both parents typically want the child to spend time with the grandparents on their side, or attend their family reunions, or go to church camp with their youth group. It is virtually impossible to plan your and your child’s schedule so exactly far enough in advance to make sure that all the events you care about are during “your time”. So be prepared to be flexible if your ex wants to trade weeks or weekends, because there will be a time when you want them to be flexible for you. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should let your ex schedule the child right out of your life. If you have not agreed to give up your time, and the other parent ships the child off so that they are not available to be picked up when your time begins, you might want to see an attorney to determine if court action is warranted.

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