Co-parenting Issues That May Arise During the Summer

Co-parenting Issues That May Arise During the Summer

Co-parenting in a child custody context refers to the shared effort between separated or divorced parents to raise their children together despite no longer being in a romantic relationship. It involves working together to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including matters such as education, healthcare, discipline, and extracurricular activities.

Healthy co-parenting benefits all parties, especially the children involved. However, to work well, co-parenting requires effective communication, cooperation, and mutual respect between the parents to ensure that parents always prioritize the well-being and best interests of the child.

Even strong co-parents can have conflicts at times. For example, co-parenting can bring several challenges during the summer when kids are off school, affecting both parents and children. When disputes arise among separated or divorced parents, they may need to rely on the courts.

A knowledgeable family law attorney in your area can review your co-parenting agreement and determine your legal options for resolving any co-parenting issues. Your lawyer can also represent you during courtroom proceedings to resolve any co-parenting disputes, particularly about summer vacation.

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What Is Shared Physical Custody?

Shared physical custody, or joint physical custody, is a custody arrangement where children spend substantial time living with both parents. In a shared physical custody arrangement, children typically split their time between their parents’ homes on a relatively equal basis, ensuring that both parents have significant involvement in their upbringing and day-to-day care.

Shared Physical Custody

In this arrangement, children may spend alternate weeks, weekends, or blocks of time with each parent, depending on what works best for the family’s schedule and the children’s needs. Shared physical custody allows children to maintain close relationships with both parents and provides them with stability and consistency in their lives.

To memorialize a shared custody agreement in writing, parents can create a parenting plan or custody agreement outlining the specifics of the arrangement. This document serves as a guide for both parents to follow and can help prevent misunderstandings or conflicts in the future. Some key components in a shared custody agreement may include the following:

  • Residential Schedule —Specify the schedule for when the children will reside with each parent, including weekdays, weekends, holidays, and school breaks.
  • Parenting Time — Detail the specific times and locations for exchanges of the children between parents, including transportation arrangements.
  • Childcare and Extracurricular Activities — Outline how parents will share childcare responsibilities and make decisions regarding extracurricular activities, school events, and medical appointments.
  • Communication — Include provisions for communication between parents regarding the children’s well-being, such as regular check-ins or updates on school progress and health issues.
  • Conflict Resolution — Establish a process for resolving disputes or disagreements that may arise between parents, such as mediation or seeking the assistance of a neutral third party.
  • Financial Responsibilities — Address how parents will share financial responsibilities for the children, including child support and childcare, healthcare, and education expenses.
  • Flexibility — Recognize the need for flexibility and allow for modifications to the agreement as circumstances change, such as changes in work schedules or the children’s preferences.

By memorializing a shared custody agreement in writing, parents can create a clear and comprehensive framework for co-parenting that promotes the well-being and stability of their children.

Specific Co-parenting Issues That May Arise During Summer

Summer, often associated with leisure and relaxation, can also present unique challenges for co-parents – or parents who share custody of their children. Whether coordinating schedules for vacations or navigating disagreements over childcare arrangements, co-parenting during the summer requires careful planning and effective communication. Some common challenges co-parents face during the summer months include the following:

Conflicting Schedules: 

Parents may have conflicting work schedules or vacation plans during the summer, making coordinating time with their children difficult. This can lead to frustration, tension, and disappointment among co-parents, as well as disappointment for the children.


  • Communication — Open and honest communication between co-parents is essential. Establishing a shared calendar or scheduling regular check-ins can help ensure that both parents know each other’s plans and can make necessary adjustments.
  • Flexibility — Being flexible and willing to compromise is key. Co-parents may need to adjust their schedules or make trade-offs to accommodate each other’s needs and maximize time with the children.

Disagreements Over Holidays and Special Occasions:

Summer holidays and special occasions like birthdays can be sources of conflict for co-parents, especially if they have different traditions or expectations for celebrating.


  • Advance Planning — Co-parents should plan ahead and discuss how they will handle holidays and special occasions. They can alternate years or find creative ways to celebrate together, ensuring the children can participate in meaningful traditions with both parents.
  • Compromise — Co-parents may need to compromise on certain aspects of holiday celebrations, such as timing or activities. Finding common ground and focusing on the children’s happiness can help alleviate tension.

Differences in Parenting Styles: 

Co-parents may have different approaches to parenting, which can become more apparent during the summer when routines become disrupted, and children have more free time.


  • Consistent Communication — Co-parents should communicate regularly about their parenting styles and expectations. It’s important to respect each other’s approaches and find common ground where possible.
  • Unified Front — Presenting a united front to the children can help maintain consistency and minimize confusion. Even if co-parents have different parenting styles, they can agree on certain rules and consequences to ensure a cohesive environment for the children.

Financial Strains:

Summer activities, camps, and vacations can be financially challenging for co-parents, especially if they have limited resources.


  • Budgeting — Plan ahead and create a budget for summer expenses. Co-parents can discuss cost-sharing arrangements and prioritize activities within their financial means.
  • Seeking Alternatives — Explore affordable or free summer activities in the community. Co-parents can also consider sharing expenses for larger purchases, such as sports equipment or outdoor gear, to reduce individual financial burdens.

Managing Transitions:

Transitioning between households can be challenging for children, especially during the summer when routines may be less structured.


  • Consistency — Establish consistent routines and expectations across both households to provide stability for the children. Co-parents can coordinate schedules and transitions to minimize disruption.
  • Open Communication — Encourage open communication with the children about transitions and changes in routine. Co-parents can reassure their children that they are loved and supported, regardless of which household they are in.

Addressing Parental Conflict:

Conflict between co-parents can negatively affect children’s well-being, especially during the summer when they may be more sensitive to environmental changes.


  • Conflict Resolution Skills — Co-parents can improve their conflict resolution skills, such as active listening and problem-solving techniques. Seeking counseling or mediation may also be beneficial in resolving conflicts constructively.
  • Putting Children First — Remind each other of the importance of putting the children’s needs first. Co-parents can set aside their differences and focus on creating a positive and supportive environment for their children.

Co-parenting during the summer presents its own set of challenges, from conflicting schedules to disagreements over parenting styles. However, co-parents can successfully navigate these challenges with effective communication, flexibility, and a willingness to compromise. Moreover, when co-parenting issues arise, an experienced family law attorney – or, if necessary, the court – may intervene and assist with resolving those issues.

What Happens When Co-parenting Issues Cannot Be Resolved Amicably Out of Court?

When parents cannot amicably resolve issues outside of court, legal options are available to help parents address their concerns and reach a resolution. These options provide a structured and formal process for resolving disputes and can help protect the best interests of the children involved. They include the following:

Mediation for co-parenting issues
  • Mediation — Mediation involves the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator who helps facilitate communication and negotiation between parents. The mediator does not make decisions for the parents but helps them work together to find mutually acceptable solutions. Mediation can be a cost-effective and efficient way to resolve co-parenting issues while avoiding the need for litigation.
  • Collaborative Law — Collaborative law is a cooperative approach to resolving co-parenting disputes where both parents and their attorneys agree to work together in a series of meetings to find solutions. Collaborative law encourages open communication and transparency and may involve the assistance of other professionals, such as therapists or financial advisors, to address the needs of the family.
  • ArbitrationArbitration is a more formal process where a neutral arbitrator, similar to a judge, hears evidence and arguments from both parties and makes a binding decision to resolve the dispute. Arbitration can be less formal and time-consuming than litigation and allows parents to have more control over the process and outcome.
  • Parenting Coordinator — A parenting coordinator is a specially trained professional who the court appoints to help parents resolve ongoing conflicts and implement parenting plans. The parenting coordinator acts as a neutral party and may provide recommendations or make decisions on specific issues within the scope of their authority. Parenting coordinators can help facilitate communication and cooperation between parents, especially in high-conflict situations.
  • Court Intervention — If all other options fail, parents may need court intervention to resolve co-parenting issues. This typically involves filing a motion or petition with the family court requesting a judge to decide on matters such as custody, visitation, child support, and other parenting issues. Court intervention should be a last resort, as it can be time-consuming, costly, and may result in outcomes that neither parent finds ideal.
  • Parenting Classes or Counseling — In some cases, the court may order parents to attend parenting classes or counseling to address specific issues related to co-parenting, communication, or conflict resolution. These programs can provide valuable education and support to help parents improve their co-parenting relationship and better meet the needs of their children.
  • Modification of Existing Orders — If circumstances change after a custody or parenting agreement has been established, such as a parent relocating or a significant change in the child’s needs, either parent may petition the court for a modification of the existing orders. The court will consider the best interests of the child when determining whether to modify custody or visitation arrangements.

When parents cannot resolve co-parenting issues amicably outside of court, there are several legal options to find solutions and ensure the well-being of their children. It’s essential for parents to carefully consider their options and seek out an experienced family law attorney to determine the most appropriate course of action based upon their individual circumstances.

How Can a Lawyer Help You Resolve Summer Co-parenting Issues?

An experienced family law attorney can be an invaluable resource in resolving co-parenting issues regarding summer. Here’s how they can help:

  • Legal Knowledge — A family law attorney has in-depth knowledge of state laws regarding custody, visitation, and parenting agreements. They can provide guidance on your rights and obligations as a parent.
  • Negotiation Skills — An attorney can act as a mediator between you and your co-parent, helping to facilitate communication and negotiate solutions to summer co-parenting issues. They can advocate for your interests while also working towards a fair and amicable resolution.
  • Drafting Agreements — Whether you need to modify an existing custody agreement or create a new parenting plan specifically for the summer months, a family law attorney can draft legal documents that accurately reflect your agreements and protect your rights.
  • Court Representation — If negotiations with your co-parent are unsuccessful and you need to seek court intervention, an experienced family law attorney can represent you in court proceedings. They can present your case effectively and advocate for your desired outcome.
  • Enforcement of Orders — If your co-parent is not complying with a court order regarding summer custody or visitation, an attorney can help you enforce the order and seek remedies for non-compliance.

An experienced family law attorney can provide the legal knowledge, negotiation skills, and representation you need to effectively resolve co-parenting issues related to summer while protecting the best interests of your children.

Speak with an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

Jeff Morris, Attorney for Family Law
Jeff Morris, Family Law Lawyer

If you are in the midst of a co-parenting dispute, it is important that you involve a skilled family law attorney in your area. Your lawyer can explore your options for resolving the dispute, represent you during all legal proceedings (if necessary), and pursue the best possible result for your case.

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