Summers were probably crazy before your divorce. Add in the confusing language of the Standard Possession Order and you’ll feel like you’re scraping your way out of the briar patch. Confusing as it is, the Standard Possession Order usually applies and can be maneuvered with the advice of a lawyer. Generally, here are the important guidelines:
The first bit of information you’ll need is geography – do you and the other conservator/parent live more than 100 miles apart? This changes the standard schedule significantly.
If the conservators live less than 100 miles apart, the possessory conservator, which is the parent who does not have primary possession, receives 30 days of possession during the summer. That parent can break the 30 days up into up to two separate periods, and the primary parent can set aside a weekend during the extended possession to have the child/ren. In that case, the primary parent has to pick up and return the child/ren wherever the possessory conservator has them at the time. Usually, if the possessory conservator doesn’t schedule otherwise in advance, the default 30 day period begins at 6:00 p.m. on July 1st and ends at 6 p.m. on July 31st.
If the conservators live more than 100 miles apart, the possessory conservator receives up to 42 days of possession during the summer. The default dates under this schedule go from 6:00 p.m. on June 14th until 6:00 p.m. on July 27th.
Primary parents get very frustrated with this schedule. It just seems wrong for a child to be away from the parent he or she spends most of the year with for up to 42 straight days. I generally advise parents against this schedule, and because I work hard to help parents agree to a final order rather than battle in court, they can agree to work around this schedule as they see fit.
For example, many of my clients adjust their schedule so the possessory conservator has the kids for two, two-week vacations and the primary parent has the kids for one two-week vacation. That way the possessory conservator has enough time with the children, without worrying about the other parent carving out some weekend in the middle. And the primary parent also has two weeks to go on an extended vacation without interruption
If you are looking at divorce or an original suit to determine a visitation schedule, or if you think you might be ready to modify an existing order, keep this schedule in mind. You may benefit from your attorney writing in an alternative schedule. Or, as always, you and the other conservator can agree around the Standard Order at any time. Check your order to make sure you have that ability, but that rule normally applies.
Know your schedule, work well with the other parent, and enjoy your summer!