Our next leap year is 2020, which most people realize is divisible by four (that’s one of the rules). Not enough people, though, know the other rule for setting leap years: a centurial year (1700, 1800, etc.) must be both evenly divisible by 100 and 400 to be a leap year or it’s skipped entirely! So 2000 was a leap year while 1900 was not. That means that three times in four hundred years the leap years will be eight years apart. We will skip leap year in 2100. Confused by this? Now you get a sense of the challenge parents face in setting visitation and custody schedules. Summer custody need not be complicated.
A Lesson about Summer
Virginia schools mark their school years by county and city districts that are county equivalents. Virginia Beach and Accomack County, for example, stake June 15, 2018 as the last day of school.
Nearby Norfolk calls June 14 the last day. On the other side of the state, Dickenson County Schools dismiss May 15. The first lesson for parents working on a summer schedule is to ensure you know your child’s school year, making no assumptions.
Astronomically, summer begins at the summer solstice (longest day of the year), on Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 6:07 a.m. (Thanks, Old Farmer’s Almanac!). So right away you and your ex-wife have to define your terms: is the start of summer the end of the school year, the start of the summer season, or something else? And be careful with terms like “the middle of summer,” which astronomically is the cross-quarter day of August 1, though most people treat July 4 as an informal halfway point for school vacations.
Our second lesson is to communicate clearly with your ex-wife, so neither of you uses a misunderstanding as fuel for further fighting.
A Lesson About Responsibility
Children of any age who must cope with going back and forth between parents will quickly learn about adult responsibilities. When you were a family under one roof, they probably hardly noticed that adults did not get entire summers off. This will be brought into sharp focus when you and your ex-wife have to structure shared custody around your work schedules. Make the custody structure as easy on the two adults as you possibly can, so neither of you gets summer fatigue.
A Lesson About Sharing
You can choose to create a custody schedule that covers all or part of the time the kids are out of school. This means your custody will be divided between the available school vacation days, not the actual summer calendar. If they start the second week of August and end in mid-May, your custody schedule is 84 days, so you could each have your kids for 42 days. This makes the math easy:
- 42 days is six, seven-day weeks
- Each of you has your children for three weeks
- You could alternate weeks, or have them for two weeks, alternate, and then have them one more week
A common structure for summer vacations is weekly custody, swapping back and forth on weekends. This, too, can be made more flexible by choosing Fridays and Mondays for the switch between parents, preserving the entire weekend for each parent to enjoy family fun without the worry of a Sunday night transfer.
A Lesson About Longing
As parents, despite the divorce that separates you two, you both love your kids. You can prevent hurt feelings and missed opportunities by incorporating a mid-week visit in each custody week. It would build around weekly visits:
- She has the children from one Friday evening through the next Friday evening;
- You have the children from a Friday evening to the following Friday evening;
- BUT, every Tuesday or Wednesday, they spend an evening with the other parent
Especially for little children, this arrangement provides reinforcement during the week that both parents are actively involved and continue to love their children.
A Lesson About Creativity
Many parents become marvelously creative with ideas like a 2-2-3 rotation:
- The kids are with you for two days, then with your ex-wife for two days;
- They return to you for a three-day weekend;
- By continuing this pattern, they are then with their mother for the next three-day weekend
Other rotation patterns include 3-3-4-4 and 2-2-5-5. For especially young children, though, this constant shuffling can become confusing.
Finally, many parents consider the benefits of bird-nesting, in which the house and the kids stay the same, with parents rotating in and out through the summer. This, as described by Psychology Today, clearly telegraphs to the children that they are the focus and priority, as it not usually convenient or ideal for either parent. Still, many parents feel it is the best custody schedule for their children.
Call the Custody & Visitation Lawyers for Fathers
Child custody and visitation are only two of many post-divorce issues that divorced Virginia men face. With a call to The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or with a contact online, you can speak with an attorney experienced in developing creative solutions to visitation schedules, custody challenges, and more. We proudly serve all of Hampton Roads, from Virginia Beach and Norfolk to Newport News and Hampton. Call us today!