Many divorced parents in the United States share custody of their children with their ex-spouses. The summer months present many challenges depending on how far apart the parents live and their typical schedules. Even when parents live near each other, custody agreements may cause issues during the summer when kids are off from school. Instead of allowing the summer to create a conflict between you and your ex, keep a few best practices in mind to avoid child custody conflicts.
Plan in Advance
If you or your ex make plans that involve your children, it’s important for the other parent to know well in advance. If you want to take your kids on vacation, your ex may not take kindly to you springing the news the day before your trip. Some divorced parents have custody agreements that dictate the time each parent spends with their children. For example, if one parent moves out of the area where the kids attend school, the court may decide that it is in the best interests of the children to remain with the parent in their school district for the duration of the school year and then spend summer break with the other parent.
Some parents switch custody every other week, and others may have more complex custody schedules. If a summer trip or vacation would interfere with the other parent’s custody time, clear this up in advance. You could work out a trade or something along those lines to avoid conflict, just make sure that your agreement falls within the scope of your custody agreement, and consult your attorney if you have any questions.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Even if you and your ex are resentful of each other because of your past marital issues, you must still function as co-parents for the sake of your children. This means keeping the lines of communication open between you and your ex-spouse. Doing so not only helps avoid conflicts over custody during summer vacation but also helps foster a better atmosphere between you and your ex that can be very beneficial to your children. Some courts may require parents to divulge vacation and travel plans to their exes, and failure to do so may lead to a court hearing.
Be Sensitive to Your Kids’ Needs
If you have custody during the summer and your ex has custody during the school year, it may bother you to hear that your children miss their other parent while they spend time with you. Try not to take this personally and understand that your children are sensitive to upheavals to their daily routine. Instead of feeling slighted by these remarks, find ways to help your children overcome the transition and enjoy their extra time with you.
Stay on Track With Support Payments
Custody agreements typically stipulate spousal support and child support terms as well. For example, a higher-earning parent who does not have majority custody will likely pay support to the other parent. If the higher-earning parent has full custody for one part of the year then the custody agreement may state that he or she does not have to pay support during that time. However, if your divorce agreement stipulates any type of payment schedule for child support, do not skip or adjust payments. Doing so may get you into trouble and could jeopardize the custody you have of your kids. If you are concerned about your support payments you may petition for a child support adjustment instead of tweaking your payments on your own.
Summer can be a stressful time for divorced parents and their children, but following these tips is a good way to prevent unnecessary conflicts. When parents work together toward the best interests of their children, everyone benefits.