Child Custody Issues Over Summer Visitation and Start of School Year

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“I’m just curious about the court’s definition of summer visitations. My ex-husband and I share legal custody of our 12-year-old, and this order has been in effect since 1995. I know that it is time to revamp this order because there are issues in the order that no longer apply. But since my daughter has started school he and his wife have started taking their summer weeks over the beginning of school, despite my objections.

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I know that this is part of his exercising control over me still, and up until now he has always made sure our daughter went to school so I didn’t mind. I was able to see her off every year. This year is when the problem started. She is in 7th grade and the school requires her to have certain materials for her to begin school with. Since he has decided to ignore my request to not take her the first day , I cordially handed him the list the school sent of the requirements for starting school.

He refuses to buy her any of the material. I know, most advise to get a lawyer and go back to court. But in all honesty if the court in Pennsylvania defines summer as being a particular time (ie…first day of summer begins on the last day of school etc…) he would be easily intimidated that I have legal standing to stop him and take him back to court, and then I wouldn’t have to. Thank you in advance for any answers you can give me.”

There is no standard definition for summer visitation that are used by every court. Generally, each custody order spells out when the visitation begins or ends. And generally most courts would probably consider “summer” to correspond with school vacations.

As for the school supplies, what is the real issue here? Are you more concerned about your daughter having her supplies or in making your ex-husband do something? Are you in a tug of war with him? Or can you not afford the supplies? (In some places, buying school supplies might be considered to be the custodial parent’s responsibility and covered by the child support.)

What you wish to do about your situation depends on your priorities. If you want to make your ex-husband do something and get into a power and control battle, you should go out and hire a lawyer and go back to court. Or do you want to create a relationship with your daughter’s father? You’ve been carrying on this fight for ten years. How do you think it has affected your daughter to have her parents fighting over who takes her to school and who buys her school supplies?

Your daughter is twelve. The teen years are in front of you and it will be important that her parents offer a united front and good behavioral role models. I wouldn’t advise to go to court. I’d suggest you find a family therapist, a mediator, or a collaborative lawyer to help you resolve the resentments and heal the conflict that has polarized your family.

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Author: House Attorney

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