Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Planning Split-Parenting Time Over Summer Break

While a few months of summer break can feel like an eternity for some parents, other parents may feel like it’s not enough. With activities, summer camps, visiting relatives, and summer vacations with kids, summer can quickly fly by — and particularly between two divorced parents.

Both parents might feel like they aren’t getting their fair share of parenting time over summer break, for example, and already rocky relationships can become even more volatile and contentious. Schedules can conflict and overlap, and parents can quickly become frustrated and disappointed. Each parent may not get their ideal summer schedule for their child; however, communication and planning are the keys to maximizing everyone’s satisfaction with the situation.

Communication is Key

As with most things in life, communication can go a long way. It can help you achieve what you want, show the other party you respect them, and help manage their expectations. Good communication can also help decrease stress and anxiety for all involved parties.

When it comes to summer vacation, divorced parents should ensure they communicate about their:

  • Expectations — including expectations for communication while one parent has the children away, such as on vacation
  • Upcoming plans
  • Desires to deviate from the parenting plan (if any)
  • When and where they will be taking the children out of town
  • Transportation for kids’ activities

Besides timely and thorough communication, advanced planning can decrease the summer break challenges a divorced parent might encounter.

It’s crucial to communicate in advance about many of these topics. No one likes to have important news that might impact their plans dropped on them at the last minute.

It might even be a good idea to set aside some time to discuss summer vacation plans — whether by phone or in person. Email and texts can work too, but often, and depending on your relationship with your ex-spouse, it can be better to have in-person conversations.

Make Plans in Advance

Besides timely and thorough communication, advanced planning can decrease the summer break challenges a divorced parent might encounter. Make important plans, such as summer vacations or visits to grandma’s house, as far in advance as you possibly can. You’ll have more options and flexibility when you do, decreasing the chances that you might need to deviate from your parenting plan or request special accommodations from your ex.

If you do need to deviate from your parenting plan, it’s best if you can discuss the situation with your child’s other parent first. Getting their permission, or being able to negotiate different parenting times with them, is in everyone’s best interest. However, if it’s a crucial issue and they aren’t willing to work with you, you may need to get your family attorney involved.

In addition, letting your child’s other parent know about your plans as far in advance as you can also shows them respect and gives them more time to potentially make their own plans for summer break. With some advanced planning and effective communication, divorced parents can have an enjoyable summer without the typical challenges and frustrations. If you need further direction in this area, it can be helpful to consult with a family law attorney.


In practice for 30 years, April D. Jones is the founder and CEO of the Jones Law Firm, PC. Leading a powerhouse team of practitioners that have helped thousands of families and individuals throughhigh-level family law legal services, Jones was recently awarded the Individual Inclusiveness@Work award by The Center for Legal Inclusiveness (CLI).

Jones leads the Sam Cary Bar Association in a second term as President (2005 and 2021). She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Hastings College of Law. Jones is a member of the California State and Colorado State Bars and is a 2021 recipient of the Denver Business Journal “Outstanding Women in Business Award.”