Co-Parenting With Your Calendar

How Annual Coordination of Holidays & Vacations Can Save Money and Stress

Child custody matters can be challenging to navigate, as families adjust to utilizing their regular parenting plan and adjust for important holidays and vacations.  In California, it is crucial for parents to be aware of certain key aspects to ensure a smooth co-parenting experience. Here are some valuable insights that may shed light on what you need to know about child custody in California.

For school-aged children, it’s beneficial for both parents to map out the child custody schedule for the entire upcoming academic year, including holidays, vacations, and other important deadlines (sports registration deadlines, pediatrician appointments, IEP meetings, etc.). Considering the academic school year as a whole allows both co-parents to establish an annual routine to spot any scheduling issues or potential conflicts well in advance. Sometimes families do not realize there is a problem until it’s too late, which is not ideal.  This approach provides ample time to sort out problems before they arise and ensure both parents are interpreting the schedule correctly.

Mapping out the entire school year in advance also helps avoid other common frustrations, such as expired passports. Did you know that adult passports are issued for 10 years, whereas passports for children are only issued for 5 years? Parents often plan international trips only to realize that their children’s passports have expired or will expire imminently, which can bar their ability to travel. By agreeing to establish an annual routine, parents can coordinate their travel cooperatively, foresee passport expiration dates, and obtain passport renewals well in advance. (It is worth noting that there is currently an immense backlog in the United States Department of State which has made recent national headlines.) Proactive planning can prevent vacations from being derailed due to passport issues.

When should these conversations take place?

Generally, a good plan is to start mapping out the schedule in July or August, ensuring that next summer’s plans and potential conflicts are identified early.  Implementing a shared calendar, such as Google Calendar or a Family Wizard calendar, can further enhance communication and coordination between parents.

From a children’s perspective, knowing the schedule well in advance provides them with a sense of comfort, routine, and stability. It helps them anticipate upcoming events and avoid disappointments caused by last-minute changes.

Sometimes parents benefit by using a Parenting Plan Coordinator, who can maintain neutrality and facilitate healthy discussions.  Your collaborative attorney or mediator can assist in preparing the new schedule in a written, enforceable document.  This proactive approach fosters a more amicable co-parenting relationship and can avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety throughout the year.

It’s also important to pay attention to the distinction between holiday schedules and vacation schedules, as they may have different limitations. For example, some parents may disagree on whether summer vacations can be combined with other holidays to extend the duration of visitation. Clarifying these details and then documenting these understandings can help avoid conflicts, build mutual trust, and ensure that you and your co-parent’s plans will each be accommodated.

In conclusion, it is crucial to start mapping out child custody schedules early. By incorporating the academic calendar issued by the school district, parents can plan vacations and holiday orders years in advance. Establishing an annual routine of discussing mutual goals and mapping them out cooperatively helps ensure that children’s needs are met, and unnecessary conflicts are minimized. By proactively addressing scheduling and planning matters, families can thrive and provide their children with a stable and fulfilling co-parenting experience.

This blog originally ran on Collaborative Divorce California.