TIPS FOR SMOOTH CO-PARENTING THIS SUMMER
Your children are likely nearing the end of their 2017-2018 California school year. Soon, summer break will be upon you. If this year will be the first summer your family has had since your divorce, you may encounter some co-parenting challenges along the way.
Perhaps a judge spoke to you at some point regarding the fact that most children fare best in divorce when they spend a lot of time with each parent. So long as your particular situation doesn’t involve extenuating circumstances that would make that a detriment, you may want to discuss the approaching summer break with your former spouse and review the the parenting plan so you can avoid major problems. It’s also a good idea to keep support information easily accessible in case things don’t go as planned.
Cooperation and clear communication are keys to success
You can’t predict exactly how your entire summer will unfold; in fact, plan as you might, you really have no way of knowing what tomorrow may bring, much less the rest of your summer. However, the following practical ideas may be useful as you try to avoid post-divorce parenting problems during summer and beyond:
- Your existing court order may already specify certain dates, such as birthdays or holidays, where your children are scheduled to be with one parent or the other. Summer time does not automatically give license for deviating from a court order.
- If you haven’t done so already, you may want to touch base with your former spouse to discuss any special trips or day-plans you have in mind that would include taking your kids out of California or would simply be a change from the typical co-parenting plan you and your ex currently share.
- Summer time often includes spontaneous adventures. It’s better for your kids in the long run if you are willing to be flexible and compromise as needed, such as if their other parent contacts them out of the blue, wanting to take them to a carnival or out for ice-cream at a time that was not scheduled as a visit. As in all situations, accommodations should be within reason.
- If your kids will be attending camp or will need money for other summer expenditures, you’ll definitely want to work out a plan regarding how much each parent will be providing toward the expenses. This can get pretty tricky if there’s an existing child support order, but summer costs create added financial strain.
- You may have to interact with your ex more often in summer than throughout the rest of the year. Your children will cope better if you avoid speaking negatively about their other parent and if both parents try their best to get along as well as possible for the kids’ sake.
- Avoid falling into competition between parents. Although summer is a time for rest and relaxation and a perfect opportunity for you to build new, happy memories with your children, it’s not a test to determine which parent is the most fun.
Support is available
It can be very emotionally upsetting for kids if a parent keeps canceling visits or doesn’t keep his or her word regarding a custody or visitation arrangement. If your spouse refuses to obey a court order or somehow tries to undermine your rights in your parent/child relationship, you can take immediate legal steps to rectify the situation. Talk to an experienced family law attorney if this happens to you and your family.