Summertime Tips for Divorced Parents
School is out and teachers and students are excited about summer vacation. Divorced or separated parents, not so much. Visitation schedules that worked during the school year may not be viable for summertime. If both parents work, then child care has to be considered. Both parents may be planning extended vacations. Or not. This is almost guaranteed to be a stressful time, but the stress can be minimized if you and your co-parent cooperate and make the children’s needs a priority.
The first thing to do is check the Parenting Plan which is part of your final court order. It may spell out exactly how summer vacation is to be handled: which parent has the children during which weeks or months. It may also establish a deadline by which you must notify your co-parent of your vacation plans. If you miss the deadline, you risk losing out on spending the time with your children. The Parenting Plan may also define whether or not the children can be taken out of the country or out of state for their vacation.
If you both work, arrangements need to be made for childcare. You should discuss this with your co-parent and focus on finding summer camps or other enrichment programs in which the children can be involved during the summer months. Decide which one of you is responsible for making the plans and how the camps or programs will be paid for.
Coordinate Vacation Dates
Do not make summertime vacations become competitions. Often, one parent can afford more expensive activities than the other. Keep in mind summertime is a time to make memories no matter what activities you do with your children. Children want to spend time with you and going to a water park for the day can be almost as much fun as a week at the beach.
When the children are leaving to go on an extended vacation with their other parent, tell them to have a good time. Let them know you are happy they are going on a nice trip.
If you take your children on vacation, provide an itinerary for your co-parent with information about how you can be contacted. Be aware that your children may miss their other parent while on the trip and allow for the children to have open access to your co-parent. Do not make the children feel guilty about their feelings.
Discuss Summer Plans with the Children
Children need to know what the plans are. Older children need to be involved in the planning. There may be special events they do not want to miss and prefer to be at your house during a certain week and their other parent’s house a different week. Ask them what things they would like to do. Work together with your children and your co-parent to make summer vacation a time your children will look forward to, not dread.
Vacation Trips Out of the Country
If either you or your co-parent plan to take a trip out of the U.S., of course the children need passports. Also, both parents need to provide written permission which is signed and notarized. You should discuss together what countries can be visited. If you are concerned that the other parent may not bring the children home, do not give permission for the children to visit any country that does not recognize The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. There may be some countries that either you or your co-parent may believe are not safe. Try to have an open discussion about this and come to a compromise.
Keep focused on the best interest of the children. If you and your co-parent have a conflict and cannot agree with the other one’s plan, step back from the situation and take a deep breath. Put your own needs aside and concentrate only on your children and how summer vacation plans in general will enhance their lives and be a summer they will look back on with pleasure. The most important thing for the children is for them to know that both parents love them and want what is the best for them.
If you are having problems working out a satisfactory arrangement for summertime co-parenting, contact our family law attorneys at Georgia Trial Attorneys. We will work with you and your co-parent to help resolve your issues so that you and your children can enjoy this time with little stress.