Enjoy Your Summer with Your Family Post-Divorce
Summer vacation is a great time for families to spend some extra time together, go on vacation, and enjoy the warmer weather. However, post-divorce, summers can look a little different. Depending on the age of your children, summer often comes with schedule changes, new extracurricular activities, summer camps, and family vacations. All of these things can make scheduling with your co-parent difficult. For example, how do you fairly split time when your child is going away to summer camp for a week?
Managing summer vacation will look different for every family. Yet, you can do a few things to help smooth the process, no matter what you're dealing with. Below we provide a few helpful tips for navigating summer vacation with your co-parent. Whether this is your first summer post-divorce or it's been a few years, these tips may be able to help.
#1: Review Your Custody Agreement
When you and your co-parent were working out your custody arrangement, you likely made provision for how school breaks would be handled, including summer vacation. While parents can't anticipate everything, your parenting plan will likely include information on how you and your co-parent will approach summer scheduling. For example, your parenting plan may provide guidelines for what to do if you want to plan an out-of-state trip or if you want to take your children on a trip that overlaps with your co-parents normally scheduled time.
If this is your first summer break post-divorce, reviewing your custody agreement, visitation schedule, and/or parenting plan is a good idea. Even if you've been divorced for five years, we recommend reviewing your agreement before making any big summer plans.
#2: Communicate with Your Co-Parent
In addition to reviewing your parenting plan, we recommend you communicate with your co-parent whenever your plans for the summer will affect them. Vacations especially can affect your co-parent, from changing when and how they can reach the children to requiring trading of days to accommodate a longer trip. Additionally, it is not uncommon for co-parents to agree to keep each other in the loop when they take the children on vacation, even if the trip doesn't directly impact the other parent's time with the children.
Remember, routine changes can be difficult for everyone, not just your children. Therefore, when planning your trip, you should keep your co-parent in the loop. While they may not need to know every detail, and it is often not appropriate to involve them in the actual planning of your trip, letting them know about the trip in advance and how it might affect them can go a long way in keeping things amicable.
#3: Be Flexible
Planning a family vacation post-divorce is a lot more complicated than before. Not only do you have your own family's schedule to juggle, but you likely have to consider your co-parent's schedule as well. Additionally, your general visitation schedule may have changed to accommodate your children's new routines. With so much going on, it is good to remain as flexible as possible. Being open-minded to schedule changes can help reduce stress and be less frustrated when things inevitably pop up.
Relatedly, if you plan to take your child on vacation and need your co-parent to either give up some of their time or change days with you to accommodate the vacation, make sure you work this out with them before booking plane tickets and hotel stays. It is also a good idea to have a few dates or a range of dates during which you can make your vacation work (whenever possible) so that if your co-parent's schedule can't accommodate your first pick, you have other options and can work with them.
#4: Get Help from an Attorney if Needed
Finally, if you are struggling with your visitation or custody schedule and cannot resolve it independently, you may want to speak with an attorney to discuss your options. For example, if your co-parent is not adhering to the provisions in your parenting plan, you should talk with an experienced lawyer about your custody modification and enforcement options. Similarly, suppose you and your co-parent find that your exisitng custody agreement is inadequate to deal with your current situation. In that case, a lawyer may be able to help you modify it.
Co-parenting is not easy, and if you are struggling to make things work, you are not alone. At the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC, we are here to help parents find the legal solutions they need to resolve their post-divorce custody issues. Give us a call today to discuss your case with one of our attorneys.