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Hello, I am Andrew Feldstein of the Feldstein Family Law Group. Today, I will discuss how separated parents share their children’s time during the summer break. We call this “Summer Access”.
Summer access can be a sticky issue since kids have more time to spend with their parent when they are not tied down by a school routine.
Typically, summer break runs from the last week of June and lasts until the last week of August, a period of about 9 weeks. Parents have a great deal of freedom in arranging summer access however they wish, so long as the schedule is in the children’s best interests.
There are many factors that can affect how summer access schedules are arranged, including:
- The age of the children;
- The children’s own summer plans; and
- Any travel plans a parent may wish to make.
Generally, the greater availability means the children can spend extended periods of time with the parent with whom they do not usually reside.
Such flexibility, in my experience, means that parents can be creative with their scheduling to make the best of the summer. For instance, parents can agree that each parent has a week (or even two, non-consecutive weeks) in each of the summer months.
Travelling with the Children
Being able to have extended periods of time together allows for parents to take the children on holiday vacations.
Parents who want to take their children out of Canada for a holiday will need to obtain a signed and notarized Consent to Travel from the other parent. A Consent to Travel is a legal document that authorizes you to travel with your children outside Canada.
When should you broach the subject of summer access?
Do not leave the discussion until the last minute as this can raise unnecessary stress and conflict. The earlier you start the conversation about summer access the better, especially if you believe there may be contention or disagreement.
In my experience, the best time for parents to discuss summer access would be sometime in the early spring. This gives you time to negotiate a schedule, make arrangements for time off work, and to make any necessary travel arrangements to take the children on vacation.
If you or the other parent plan to enrol the children in day-camp or overnight camp, this summer access should be discussed prior to enrolling as camp schedules impact access time with the children.
Take the initiative and arrange a time to do your summer access planning with the other parent where you both have the information necessary for a productive discussion. Planning ahead means you’ll both spend less time stressing and more time enjoying summer break with the children.