Aaaaah, summer. It may seem far away now, but if you need to make a change, the time to start working on it is now. The California family law court system works very slowly, so plan at least 3 months before you may need court assistance, if not more. In Alameda County and Contra Costa County, courts are setting hearings out as much as 6-8 weeks.
Summer brings with it thoughts of sunshine, barbeques, vacations and…custody issues if you’re a family law attorney working with divorced parents. Summer brings with it unique challenges for the separated couple that interrupt the schedule:
- Vacations: a regular schedule can get way off track once a two-week vacation is scheduled. Anticipating this in advance is critical to avoid last-minute problems.
- Summer camps, sports camps, and musical camps: summer camps cause problems because it is often one parent who signs the child up, and invariably the camp is set for the other parent’s time. Again, this needs to be anticipated in advance to avoid problems.
- Summer school: Like summer camps, summer school invariably messes up both parent’s schedules, and the parent signing the child up often does so without the permission or consultation of the other parent.
- Child care challenges arising from the modified summer schedule: Summer schedules often vary from the school schedule to give the lower-time parent extra time. Week-to-week schedules are not uncommon where the school schedule just provides for weekends for the lower-time parent. This means that both parents have to adjust for the summer, which can be tricky when dealing with younger children (who need child care) and working parents not used to having a child home all the time.
The key here is ensuring that you work with someone who knows and can anticipate these problems ahead of time and provide for them in your parenting plan. First, this means both of you have thought of the potential problem and talked out how you would deal with it. Second, it provides for a solution in the event you can’t agree when the dispute arises.