Summer break is a time for children to relax and enjoy themselves. However, for parents who are going through or have been through a child custody battle, it can be a difficult time, as routines and schedules that everyone has depended on throughout the academic year are altered to allow for summer camps, vacations, or just more time with family on both sides. But I like to think of summer break as a great time to brush up on better co-parenting skills and encourage better communication between co-parents for the benefit of their children. If you want to make the summer break easier on you and your child, follow these tips:
Communicate with your co-parent
This goes without saying, but I’ve found even the best co-parents sometimes need reminders. During the summer break, when schedules tend to be more relaxed, it is still important to communicate with the other parent. Talk to them about your child’s plans for the summer and what you expect in terms of child custody arrangements if there isn’t already a court-ordered schedule in place or if adjustments may be needed for an agreed-upon schedule. If you have any concerns, address them directly with your co-parent so that you can try to reach a resolution that works for everyone.
If you have a child custody agreement in place, summer break is a great time to review it and make sure that both parents are on the same page for the coming year. If there have been any changes to the child custody arrangement or if you anticipate changes that may be necessary before the next school year, be sure to communicate those with your co-parent as well.
Another important thing to communicate with your co-parent about is how you will handle communication over the summer break, especially when each parent may be enjoying longer periods of time with the child. Will you check in with each other regularly? Or will you only contact each other if there is an issue that needs to be addressed? Or will there be agreed-upon days and times that the child will call the parents to maintain regular communication? Having this conversation up front can help to avoid misunderstandings later on.
Agree on rules ahead of time.
Rules may be a strong word here, but if there will be rules that govern summer break or how vacations are handled, agreeing on these things ahead of time is always advisable. For example, if you and your child are planning a trip out of state or country, will the full itinerary need to be provided to the other parent ahead of time? Will the child be able to call or FaceTime the other parent while they’re so far away? What happens if one parent wants to take the child on a last-minute trip and the other parent can’t make it work with their schedule? Having these conversations before summer break begins will help to avoid any potential conflict or expensive changes in travel plans later on.
It’s also important to agree on how you will handle communication about summer activities. In cases where the parents evenly split the summer weeks, will both parents agree to share the plans for the child during their weeks ahead of time? Will both parents receive weekly updates from the child about what they’re doing? Or will each parent only communicate with the child about their respective plans for the summer and depend upon the child sharing their activities with the other parent? Establishing this communication protocol ahead of time will again help to avoid any misunderstanding and also make sure neither parent feels excluded from their child’s summer plans.
Respect each other’s parenting decisions.
If your community is similar to mine, summer plans are made far in advance, usually by the end of Spring Break, in order to secure the best summer opportunities. If a parent decides on an activity or camp to sign the child up for during their parenting time, do your best to respect that decision and not do anything that may diminish the child’s excitement for whatever the activity may be. Barring any truly unsafe or unlawful situations, just because you wouldn’t have signed the child up for something doesn’t necessarily mean that the child won’t enjoy it or get a lot of the experience.
It can also be helpful to remember that the child is not a pawn in some sort of parenting competition. Just because you may not personally agree with the activity or camp your co-parent has signed the child up for, it doesn’t mean that it’s somehow a dig at you as a parent. The child should always come first, and if there is an opportunity for the child to have fun and learn new things, that should be the priority for both parents.
Spend time with your child.
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important nonetheless. While summer break is a great time for the child to spend time with friends and explore new things, it’s also important to make sure that you’re spending quality time with your child as well. If you have the opportunity to take a day trip or go on vacation together, take advantage of it! If not, try to schedule regular activities that you can do together, even if it’s just going out for ice cream once a week.
The most important thing is to enjoy your summer and create lasting memories with your child! Co-parenting during summer break doesn’t have to be difficult if you communicate openly and respectfully with each other. By following these tips, you and your child can have a fun, safe, and memorable summer break!
If you are having difficulties regarding custody of or visitation with your child, don’t make any decisions about how to proceed before talking with a trusted attorney in your area. These issues and any settlement you reach will be subject to your state’s divorce laws. Without discussing your situation with an attorney, your agreement may not be what you want or what is beneficial to your future.
If you’re in South Carolina, it’s important to contact an experienced family court attorney like Ben Stevens today to discuss your specific situation. Even if you aren’t in South Carolina, Mr. Stevens is happy to offer referrals to a well-qualified attorney located in your state.
Ben Stevens has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over twenty-five years, handling all matters of family law, such as divorce, separation, child custody, visitation, and child support. Our firm is well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule an initial consultation.
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Author: J. Benjamin Stevens
Articles have been Reprinted with permission from the charlotte observer and Mike Hunter.
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