Summer vacation can bring schedule changes, and divorced parents in Virginia may need to adjust the parenting plan to accommodate those changes. This adjustment should start well before the summer begins. The aim should be to get both parents in agreement and provide a calm, safe atmosphere for the child. Parents can turn to a mediator for help if they are struggling to communicate effectively.

Parents should treat one another with respect. While they may have negative feelings about one another, dealing with summer plans is about the best interests of the child. Attacking one another can be harmful to the child. Children can also sense tension between their parents. One consideration in reviewing the parenting plan for the summer is how the child’s needs have changed. A plan that was appropriate for a very young child may not be appropriate once the child is approaching the teen years.

Once parents do decide upon a parenting plan for the summer, they should communicate it to the child as soon as possible. Children will feel less anxious if they know what to expect. Parents should also try to set similar expectations and rules between households. Finally, they should try to keep things in perspective and focus on what will be good for the child in the long run.

Parents may want to make an agreement about how to handle summer and vacation time as well as holidays when they make the child custody and visitation schedule during divorce negotiations. If they eventually want to make permanent changes to the schedule, they may want to return to court and get a modification. A formalized parenting plan might help protect parents and children if one parent violates the custody and visitation agreement. The same is true of the child support agreement.