Vacation Wizard: Tips for Summer Custody Agreements and Visitation | Two HappyHomes Inc.

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Vacation Wizard: Tips for Summer Custody Agreements and Visitation

As the school year comes to an end, parents are scheduling camps, vacations and other activities for their children. Of course, this also means that the summer visitation requirements must be addressed for divorced families. Family law attorney, Lanae Harden, gives tips on how to ensure a smooth summer for both the parents and children involved.
  • If you don’t have a detailed parenting visitation schedule, create one. This may be difficult for former spouses to come to an agreement. If you are unable to come up with a mutually agreeable schedule, consult a professional to aid with this.  The more detailed your agreement is, the less room for interpretation, therefore less conflict.  
  • Recognize the emotional impact this may have on the children. A significant change in schedule can bring up emotions for the children. This could be positive or negative emotions, but usually a mixture of both. Children thrive on routine, and summer visitation schedules usually vary significantly from the routines that the children became accustomed to during the school year. Depending on the ages of the children, explain to them the exact schedule and where they will be at any given time. Create a calendar with color coded days signifying when they will be at mom’s house and when they will be at dad’s house.
  • Plan accordingly. This may include scheduling time off work or altering your work schedule when the children are visiting. Plan appropriate summer-time activities.  If you are the non-custodial parent, this may also include arranging for care (nanny, babysitter etc.). If possible, utilize their same care provider at both homes for consistency. 
  • Be supportive if your child misses the other parent. Don’t take this personally or assume this means the child loves the other parent more than you. Look for ways to calm your child and allow them to speak frequently with their other parent. This will only help build your bond with your child.  
The best interest of the child is always the most important thing to keep in mind. Both parents should communicate and cooperate to make sure that reasonable visitation time is met and the child feels safe and secure.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice.You should consult an attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation. If you need assistance with determining child visitation or custody, contact me at 317-569-0770 or

Lanae Harden is a founding member of HARDEN JACKSON, LLC where she practices family law litigation with more than sixteen (16) years of experience. She chairs the firm’s Family Law Practice Group. Ms. Harden received her Juris Doctor magna cum laude from Indiana University School of Law, finishing in the top 5% of her class. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated magna cum laude and was a member of the university’s tennis team. Ms. Harden is also a four-time Indiana State Tennis Champion.

Ms. Harden is a member of the Indianapolis Bar Association, the Indiana State Bar Association, and the Hamilton County Bar Association, for which she serves on the Family Law Executive Committee. She has also been selected as a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine three years in a row (2010-2012), an honor that lists Lanae as one of the top attorneys in Indiana.


My daughter is crying all the time when it is time to go to her dad's house. She just turned 12. She doesn't know her dad because we divorced when she was 4 years old. There was a almost 6 year gap of staying overnight and now it is overnights and eventually 4 weeks this summer. What can I do? My ex ignores the feelings of his his daughter and tells her she has no reason to cry.
I know you posted this a long time ago, but I wanted to reply, just in case it's helpful to hear something, still. For what it's worth, this comes from a mom: It sounds to me like you might have had trouble over the years fostering a healthy relationship between your daughter and your ex. Your daughter had lots of time before the age of four to develop a significant and developmentally critical attachment to her dad. It sounds as if your ex wants to be involved in his daughter's life, and that's a good thing, because she needs and deserves to have more than one parent. If I were you, I would be helping my daughter to recall positive memories of her relationship with her father, sharing photographs I have of my daughter with her father before the divorce, and talking with my daughter about how much BOTH my ex and I love her and how important I think it is for her to know and feel close to her dad. I would, in other words, stop focusing on my ex's faults or the negatives in the situation and start setting my daughter up for a successful experience. If it doesn't go well, it doesn't go well, but at least you will have done your best to be a mature, helpful co-parent.
Children are always the on who suffers. There are are ways of coping up for them in order to have a normal life. The article is hopeful for everyone. As for many, who prefer to make it legal ( ) which is initially the first right thing to do, some make it a silent settlement for both parent if both parties are cooperative.