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  • Writer's pictureJared Davies, Lawyer

The summer holiday schedule

Introduction


Summer is a time for relaxation and creating lasting memories with family and loved ones. However, for families going through a divorce or separation, summer can be a time of stress and uncertainty, especially when it comes to scheduling parenting time with their children. That's why having a summer holiday schedule in place is crucial for parents to ensure their children have a happy and stress-free summer when they are home from school.

The best-case scenario, parents come to a summer holiday schedule or a written agreement themselves and/or with their lawyers. This agreement should outline their children's parenting schedule during the summer months. It can also include any necessary accommodations for vacations or other family events. There is no particular schedule that works for everyone. Rather, parents should look to the uniqueness of their family to see what schedule makes sense. Two recent Ontario Superior Court decisions set out comprehensive summer schedules by way of court order. These are good examples of effective summer holiday schedules for the particular families in question.

Case Law


Chong v. Donnelly, 2021 ONSC 5263

6. The summer holidays start on the first Monday the children are off school and ends on the day the children return to school.

7. For the summer holidays, the children shall spend time with the parents on a week-about schedule with an allowance for two three-week periods, one for each parent. The summer schedule shall begin at 8:00 am on the day after the last day of school and end at 8:00 am on the same day of the week that it started on, before the first day of school in September. The regular schedule shall resume once the summer schedule ends.

8. The Respondent shall choose and notify the Applicant of his three-week block of time by April 1st in even numbered years. The Applicant shall choose and notify the Respondent of her three-week block of time by April 1st in odd numbered years.

9. The remaining summer schedule shall be shared with alternating weeks between the parties. In years where the summer break consists of eleven weeks, one party shall receive six weeks and the other shall receive five weeks, and this shall be rotated from year to year.

Brennan v. Lander, 2020 ONSC 1696

85. ...The regular school schedule is to preserve consistency over the school year. In my view, the parents should each have more block time with the children during the Summer Holiday period. This is an opportunity for the children to spend less structured time in each parent’s home, away from the city or with extended family.

86. In 2020, the parents shall each have three weeks of holiday time with the children in addition to the regular residential schedule. The three weeks shall be taken either as three seven-day periods, not consecutive, or one 14-day period and one seven-day period, not consecutive. In 2020 only, the Respondent shall select her summer vacation periods no later than April 15, and the Applicant shall select his summer holiday period no later than April 30.

87. In all following even numbered years, the Respondent shall select her summer vacation periods no later than March 1, and the Applicant shall select his summer holiday period no later than March 15. In odd numbered years, the Applicant shall select his summer vacation periods no later than March 1, and the Respondent shall select her summer holiday period no later than March 15.

Importance of a summer holiday schedule


It provides structure and stability: For children, routine and structure are essential for their emotional well-being. A summer holiday schedule provides the necessary structure and stability children need during a time of change and uncertainty.

It reduces conflict and confusion: A summer holiday schedule eliminates any confusion or ambiguity surrounding visitation arrangements. When parents have a clear and concise plan in place, there is less room for conflict or misunderstandings.

It promotes communication and cooperation: Creating a summer holiday schedule requires parents to communicate and cooperate with one another. This can help to improve the overall relationship between parents, which is beneficial for both the children and the parents themselves.

It ensures that children have quality time with both parents: Summer is a time when children are out of school and have more free time to spend with their parents. Having a summer holiday schedule in place ensures that children have quality time with both parents and can continue to build strong relationships with each of them.

It typically allows for vacations: While a summer holiday schedule provides structure and stability, it should also be mindful of the fact that children are off school. It is the perfect opportunity for families to plan their vacations.

Conclusion


A summer holiday schedule is essential for families going through a divorce or separation to ensure their children have a happy and stress-free summer. It provides structure and stability, reduces conflict and confusion, promotes communication and cooperation, ensures that children have quality time with both parents, and allows for vacations. The two recent Ontario Superior Court decisions provide examples of summer schedules. However, ideally, parents should come to a written agreement themselves that outlines their children's visitation schedule during the summer months, including any necessary modifcations for vacations or other family events.

Comments


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