While most families are preparing for vacations and outings this summer, divorced and separated parents also have the added task of planning out their child custody arrangements. Making plans for your child custody or visitation schedule over summer break can be complicated even under the best circumstances, so it’s important to plan ahead to make the process as simple as possible. If you need to make adjustments to your custody schedule or visitation arrangements, read through these helpful tips for a little extra guidance.
1. Be Prepared
If you know you will need to make changes to your custody arrangement over the summer, make note of those deviations as soon as possible. Keep track of the dates you wish to alter, including vacations you’d like your children to join you on. Evaluate the changes in your children’s day-to-day agenda and take note of how it could alter your current custody arrangement, and what could be done as a solution. For most parents, this means making a plan for your children’s care during the school break. If both you and your co-parent work, look into day care or summer camp options that could fit everyone’s schedules. Draw up a tentative schedule so that you know what you are looking for when you and your child’s other parent negotiate a summertime agreement.
2. Communicate With Your Co-Parent
Be courteous and give your co-parent as much notice as possible about any upcoming plans that could affect your custody arrangement or visitation schedule. Communicating openly can promote civil interactions between you, which might make negotiations easier. If you have an adults-only wedding to attend on a night you typically have custody of your children, inform your ex well in advance. Ideally, you could ask if they wouldn’t mind making a switch or alteration so that you can attend your event and avoid losing time with your children. This goes both ways, so if your co-parent comes to you with a change they’d like to make, try to be flexible and willing to negotiate. Remember, the goal is to always make plans in the best interest of your children.
3. Let Your Children Have a Say
Keep in mind, summer is an exciting time for children and your kids will likely have plenty to say about what they’d like to do. Try to give their wishes a voice. If there is a birthday party they wish to attend, try to ensure you and your co-parent plan around it. If your children prefer summer camp over day care, take their opinion under consideration and see how their wishes work with what you and your co-parent think is best for them.
4. Make a Schedule
After discussing possible date changes and vacation plans, decide on a time you and your co-parent can get together to make a set custody schedule. Ideally, you will be able to draw up a finalized schedule for the summer that works with both of your schedules and works in the best interest of your children.
If you and your ex are unable to come together amicable to agree on a plan, you might try negotiating terms of a set schedule over email. This could make it easier for avoid a fight, and if your co-parent refuses to cooperate and you do need to seek legal assistance, you will have proof of your attempt to resolve the issue in writing. When you’ve exhausted your more peaceful alternatives, consider seeking mediation or legal assistance in order to obtain a new custody agreement for the summer.
For more help regarding child custody arrangements, contact Balisle Family Law Legal Counsel, S.C.