Parent Timeshares during School Breaks and Summer Vacation

Ah, summer! For many kids, it’s a glorious time of year. No school. No homework. Just three months that seem to stretch on forever. 

For ex-spouses who are co-parenting, however, summer – or any break from the normal routine, for that matter – can present unique challenges.

If you and your ex struggle with co-parenting during holidays, vacations, and school breaks, consider the timesharing options we explore here. 

Splitting holidays and vacations with a co-parent

Co-parenting thrives on schedules and routines. During the normal school year, this can be done effectively with a thoughtfully crafted parenting plan. But those long holidays and vacations without the typical school routine can throw everyone off balance. 

No matter how well you and your co-parent navigate your parenting responsibilities during the regular school year, summer breaks and holidays require some agreed-upon structure.

Cooperation is key

Co-parenting requires former spouses to set aside their differences for the sake of their kids’ well-being. A willingness to compromise on timeshare arrangements and a well-developed parenting schedule can help keep everyone on the same page.

Holidays require planning and coordination, especially if the holidays hold significant traditions that are important to adults and kids. Vacations require travel plans and time off from work that must be considered well in advance. This necessitates forethought and give and take on both sides.

Working out the details calmly and cooperatively in advance can ensure that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to juggle and accommodate everyone’s differing plans.

Timeshare examples

Example #1: Plot everything out at the beginning of the school year

A good way to make sure that you and your co-parent have equal access to your minor children for holidays and school vacations is by sitting down with the school schedule at the beginning of the year. Plot all vacation and holiday time on a shared family calendar

Make sure you both understand who is paying for vacation activities, camps, and other things. Get on the same page about transportation, too: Who’s driving whom? 

 If you meet and plan in late July or early August, you’ll have the coming year planned in advance. That makes it easier to arrange your work schedules and financial responsibilities around that plan.

Example #2: Both parents want the kids for specific dates and holidays

Sometimes, you and your co-parent may both want access to the kids for important holidays, celebrations, and birthdays. For these times, you might agree to split the day. Or, one of you might take the day before (i.e., use the “eve” as your holiday). You might even agree to celebrate some of these important dates together, such as birthdays. 

Another option to consider: You and your co-parent agree to celebrate specific holidays one year and then swap those with each other the following year. You may also want to split up lengthy school vacations, with one co-parent getting the kids for half the time and then handing them off to the other at mid-point.

Example #3: Leave vacations and holidays up to the parenting plan

Your divorce agreement may already include a parenting plan and holiday schedule court order. Instead of trying to hammer out alternatives to that, it may just be easier to stay with the plan unless absolutely necessary, especially if you and your co-parent have a difficult time cooperating or if you’re not geographically close to each other. 

Talk about a “plan B”

The best-laid plans invariably get messed up at the most inopportune times. When you are discussing your parenting time as cool, rational adults, it might also be a good time to discuss a plan B should the “unforeseeable” happen and you have to pivot.

Vacationing together

Divorce doesn’t always mean you go your separate ways for everything. Some co-parents have found success vacationing together. It doesn’t work for everybody, but if you think it might work for you, it may be worth considering. 

Before you do this, recognize that the amount of time you might spend vacationing together is different from the occasional shared birthday party. You’ll be spending a lot more time together than usual. How well do you and your ex get along? Could you spend an entire vacation together without fighting or bickering? How would you handle any disagreements? How would you handle living arrangements? Who would pay for what during this time?

Although it’s a wonderful goal to come together for a vacation in the name of family unity, if the time together is not going to be happy and cooperative, it may not be for the best. Kids can get mixed signals and even hold out false hope that their parents will reunite. You and your ex should consider these factors if you're thinking about vacationing together. 

Read: Family Vacation with Your Ex and Kids: Pros and Cons

What if you can’t agree?

Planning a co-parenting vacation and holiday schedule demands compromise and a cooperative spirit. You and your ex may simply be unable to agree on some co-parenting matters without help. As in all co-parenting matters, the best interests of the children should be your top priority. Getting the help of a mediator, co-parenting counselor, or parenting coordinator can help you work through some of your sticking points when working out a vacation and holiday co-parenting plan.

At Hello Divorce, we believe that co-parenting doesn’t have to be antagonistic, and a child’s life can be made better by parents who are both happy. We offer online divorce plans, professional services, and a library of informative articles to help guide couples into a new and better future for themselves. Have questions? Schedule a free phone call to see how we may be able to help. 


Suggested: Summer Survival Tips and Resources for New Co-Parents

Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.