As a parent, you know how quickly summer comes, and how quickly it ends. In those precious three months, the stress of keeping kids engaged, busy and properly cared for is hard enough for two parents. For those considering or in the midst of divorce or separation, the stress of summer vacation only intensifies.
Now is the time to start discussing your proposed parenting plans, before summer arrives. Wait too long and you could end up with a summer that is anything but “fun in the sun.”
Why you need to start planning now
Whether your decision to split up is mutual or hotly contested, parental separation is hard on everyone. Poor planning only makes the situation worse, especially for your kids.
Not only that, but family courts and judges maintain packed schedules during the slowest times of the year, much less the hustle of summer. If you wait until June to start the process, hoping you can work out everything before school starts, you might not even get a court date until well into the fall. The time to act is now.
One way to avoid this conundrum is to consider using mediation or collaborative law. In both processes, you set the schedule for working through issues of dividing custody, parenting time and child support. The flexibility offered by these alternative dispute processes may be just what you need to ensure your family’s transition goes as smoothly as possible – and still leaves time for summer fun.
Things to think about when planning your summer
How to divide up the summer and other vacation time will become a significant portion of your parenting plan. Some questions you might consider are:
- Will our custody arrangements change for the summer months or stay the same as the school year?
- What vacations do I want to take with just my kids this summer? What if my ex wants to take the kids somewhere? How will we communicate about those plans?
- If both parents work, how will childcare be handled during the summer? Who will pay for it?
- Who gets to have the kids for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day Weekend?
- What if the kids want to go to camp or participate in other organized summer activities? Who will arrange and pay for those activities?
- Who will handle back-to-school shopping and expenses?
These are just a few questions to get you started. The court will always look to preserve the best interests of your children, so any agreements you make will need to fit this standard. In most cases, that means compromise and cooperation between parents.
Co-parenting is a skill, but one that many parents have learned. With proper planning and the help of a skilled legal team, your summer may only be clouded by the specter of divorce or separation – not completely ruined.