Summer Parenting Plans: Creating a Smooth Transition for Shared Custody in Florida

Summer Parenting Plans: Creating a Smooth Transition for Shared Custody in Florida

Summer vacation – a time for carefree days, poolside fun, and cherished memories with loved ones. For families navigating shared custody in Florida (“time-sharing”), however, summer can also present logistical challenges. With school schedules out the window, creating a summer parenting plan that ensures quality time for both parents and minimizes disruption for children is crucial. Below are some tips and guidelines for navigating the challenges associated with summer parenting plans. These will equip you with the knowledge and resources to craft a summer parenting plan that prioritizes your children’s well-being, also while adhering to Florida’s latest laws and reforms.


Understanding Florida’s Shared Custody Laws

Florida Statutes prioritize the best interests of the child when determining parenting plans. This means creating a schedule that fosters a consistent and nurturing relationship with both parents. There are various time-sharing arrangements possible, including:


  • Equal time-sharing: Children spend an equal amount of time with each parent. In recent reforms (July 2023) aimed at modernizing family law, Florida enacted changes to its time-sharing statutes, based on a presumption that equal 50/50 time-sharing is in the best interest of the child. While this doesn’t necessarily mandate a strict 50/50 division, it establishes a baseline that favors a more balanced allocation of parenting time.
  • Alternating weeks/ weekends: Children alternate spending weeks or weekends with each parent.
  • Modified plans: These plans cater to specific situations, accommodating work schedules, extracurricular activities, or long-distance parenting.


Planning for a Smooth Summer Transition:

1. Communication is Key

Open and honest communication between co-parents is the cornerstone of a successful summer parenting plan. Discuss your schedules, vacation plans, and any camps or activities you’d like your children to participate in. Consider these points:

  • Start Early: Don’t wait until summer break arrives. Begin discussions well in advance to ensure all parties have a clear understanding of the plan.
  • Be Flexible: Unexpected events can arise. Maintain a flexible attitude and be willing to make adjustments as needed.
  • Prioritize Children’s Needs: Remember, the goal is to create a positive and predictable schedule for your children.


2. Accommodating Vacations and Activities:

Summertime often includes vacations, camps, and various activities. Here’s how to factor them into your plan:

  • Share Vacation Plans: If you plan to take your children on vacation, discuss the dates and duration with the other parent well in advance.
  • Consider Alternating Summer Trips: If resources allow, consider alternating summers for extended vacations to ensure both parents have the opportunity for longer trips with their children.
  • Camp Coordination: Discuss preferred camps and their schedules with the other parent. Consider splitting the cost and transportation responsibilities.


3. Maintaining Consistency

While summer offers a break from routine, some level of consistency is still important for your child’s well-being. Here’s how to achieve that:

  • Establish Bedtime and Screen Time Rules: Even during a relaxed summer, agree on consistent bedtime and screen time rules across both households.
  • Maintain Communication Channels: Ensure open communication continues during summer. Regular phone calls, video chats, and open communication with both parents help children feel connected.
  • Respect Schedules: Sticking to agreed-upon times for pickups and drop-offs minimizes stress and disruption for children.


4. Addressing Potential Challenges:

Despite best efforts, unforeseen situations may arise. Florida law offers some guidance for navigating these challenges:

  • Disagreements: If you and your co-parent cannot reach an agreement regarding the summer parenting plan, Florida law allows for mediation. A neutral third party can facilitate communication and help you reach a solution. If mediation is not an option, you can file a motion for contempt.
  • Last-Minute Changes: If a last-minute schedule change is necessary, Florida Statutes require reasonable notice to the other parent. “Reasonable” is determined by the circumstances, but generally includes providing as much notice as possible.


Creating a Written Agreement

While not mandatory, a written summer parenting plan outlining the specific details can help minimize misunderstandings. This document should include:


  • Dates and times for child exchanges
  • Vacation schedules (including locations and durations)
  • Responsibilities for transportation and camp fees
  • Agreed-upon communication protocols


We’re Here to Help

At Parra Harris Law, we understand the complexities of navigating shared custody in Florida. Our experienced family law attorneys can offer personalized guidance tailored to your specific situation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and ensure a smooth summer transition for your children.

Paola Parra Harris