Changing Custody Agreements for Summer
Traditionally, summer is when kids are off from school and you can spend time together as a family in the great outdoors, take vacations, and hang by the pool. For divorced couples with children, getting through the summer without arguing over scheduling conflicts can be…difficult to say the least.
Anytime you need to make a change to your custody agreement permanently, you have to appeal the court and basically redo your divorce agreement. However, you can make temporary, or joint changes to your parenting plan through agreement.
The first place to start is your divorce decree or modification to your divorce decree – whichever reflects the most recent custody order. Weekend possession continues during the summer, except when each parent is enjoying extended visitation with their child(ren). Neither parent can be forced to take their visitation, but they do have the right to it unless otherwise stated in the custody agreement.
If you no longer live with your (ex) spouse and you’re worried about creating a fair parenting plan, follow these tips for dealing with common issues with changing custody agreements for summer.
Make a Fair Vacation Schedule
With the kids out of school, there’s plenty of time for traveling and vacation! Don’t waste this precious time arguing with your ex or battling it out in court. Instead, try to take the time to talk to your ex about your travel plans far enough in advance that they are aware and can plan accordingly. Oftentimes, talking about it beforehand can help both of you feel heard and avoid surprises and hurt feelings.
Make a custody and visitation schedule for the entire summer, make sure both of you sign it and submit it to the judge.
Communicate Any Changes With Your Ex
After you’ve made your agreement and submitted your schedule to the judge, it’s entirely possible (even probable) that changes might arise. While some emergencies are unavoidable – illness, death in the family, natural disaster, car breaking down, etc. – most changes you’ll know about in advance. Give your ex a heads up as soon as you know there could be a change in the schedule. It’s overwhelming and frustrating when plans are constantly changing at the drop of a hat. Likewise, try to make accommodations for them. The sooner you inform them, the more likely they are to accommodate your needs.
Exchange Custody in a Safe Place
Exchanging custody can be awkward, especially if the parents don’t get along and are prone to arguing when they see one another. To lessen the stress for you and your children, meet in a public place where your children feel safe. Schools are a popular location for custody exchanges. The familiarity is soothing for your kids and having other parents and teachers around keeps you from getting into a loud, verbal disagreement.
Let Your Children Talk To Their Other Parent Over the Summer
It’s normal for your children to miss their other parent while they’re with you. It doesn’t mean they love you less, it just means they love you both. Try not to limit communication with their other parent while they’re with you. It may feel like an encroachment on your time with them, but it’s natural and healthy for them to talk to you both openly and often. Encourage them to text their other parent, set up nightly or bi-weekly Skype calls – whatever you have to do to keep lines of communication open with your ex. This is good for your children and it helps keep the other parent from becoming dissatisfied with the visitation schedule.
Schedule a Consultation With Your Family Law Attorney
No matter what happens between you and your ex, remember that you must abide by the terms of your custody agreement. You can’t just whisk the kids off to Disney World during their other parent’s visitation time. If your agreement needs to be modified for separate vacation and work schedules, or you want to take your kids on an out-of-state trip without your ex’s approval make sure that you talk to your family law attorney about modification and what your next steps should be.
We know it can be difficult to come to an amicable agreement about custody and visitation – especially in the summer when the kids are out of school 24/7. That’s why the Bobby Digby Law Firm is here to help walk you through every possible legal snafu and entanglement with your and your children’s best interests in mind.