Kids are out of school and it is officially summer, which means you might want to spend some time with them on a fun vacation, or just enjoy a weekend with them. Whatever your plans might be, if you are sharing custody with your ex-spouse, you are going to have to work together to craft a schedule that speaks to both of your needs without running into any nasty hiccups. Co-parenting can take a bit of work, but it is not impossible if both parents are willing to make compromises.
Here are some guidelines that can help make your summer of co-parenting go more smoothly:
- Create a co-parenting plan: Do not expect the summer to go well if you do not sit down with your co-parent and invest some time in a proper plan. You might already have a holiday schedule in place that you can work from as a starting point. Keep in mind that your summer of fun is not just about you or your co-parent; it is about your children. Children’s interests and needs change, so a plan that might have worked 2 years ago will probably not work today. Make sure your plan is adjusted to suit the changing needs of everyone before signing off on them.
- Share your vacation plans with your ex as soon as you can: Your summer vacation with the kids should not take your ex by surprise. You might not always know your vacation plans far in advance, but waiting until the last minute to notify your ex is a disaster waiting to happen. Make your requests early and exchange your plans in writing. Lots of divorced couples alternate years to take children on vacation during holidays. One parent might take the odd years, while the other takes the even years, making it easy to remember.
It is also possible that you might have to share some days with your co-parent. For example, if one of your children is graduating, you will both want to be there. Try to work together with your ex to avoid any discomfort for your children. If you truly cannot get along, try to arrange separate celebrations.
- Ask your kids for their input: It is important to have a well-crafted plan with your ex, but it is also important to consider what they might want. While you and your ex are carefully planning the time you would like to spend with them over the summer, remember that your kids might also want time for themselves to spend with their friends and to simply be kids. They might not want to fancy or exotic vacation you had in mind. Have a talk with them to make sure this summer is not just about you or your ex-spouse, but about them as well. No one wants to see a sulky kid while on holiday.
- Try to be flexible: You might still harbor some feelings of anger or resentment toward your ex, but he or she is still a parent to your children. You should both support each other’s relationships with your children and encourage contact. If you are traveling with your children, give the other parent the necessary contact information for your children, so they are able to either have phone conversations, text, email, or Skype. If your ex wants to take the children out of the country for a vacation, sign the travel documents. If you both show consideration toward one another rather than create obstacles, this will create a co-parenting relationship that will not only lessen stress for both parties, but for your children as well.
- Be understanding: Children are unpredictable. You and your spouse might have created the perfect vacation plan and worked together with complete civility. However, this will not keep your children from acting out. Some kids do not react favorably to vacationing with one parent and might miss the other parent and resist your efforts to spend time with them. You might feel hurt by this, or take it personally, but you should not get upset or resent your children’s feelings. Imagine what it is like to be them and how hard it must be to adjust to this new life of separate plans and vacations. You might have to cut your plans short, but it is important to be understanding. Your children should not worry about your ability to cope with their feelings.
- Avoid competition: It is only natural to want to be the favored parent of your children, but do not act on this by engaging in a competition with your ex and constantly trying to one-up him or her. This is not about who can provide the better vacation. Your children just want to have fun and spend time with you and will likely not care about how or where it is done as long as they get to have fun and be happy. Petty competition will only detract from your enjoyment and make you miss out on what really matters.
Jackson, MS Child Custody Attorneys
The best interests of your children should always be your top priority, no matter what your family is going through, and regardless of what might be between you and your ex-spouse. However, the inherent complexities of custody battles, which are often emotionally charged, require an in-depth knowledge of the situation at hand. From divorce to unmarried couples who parent children together, Shows & Smith Law Firm PLLC helps individuals and families throughout the greater Jackson area.
Backed by over 50 years of combined legal experience and proven advocacy, you can be confident that our firm understands the high stakes involved in child custody, visitation, and other parenting matters. Protecting your children’s best interests and honoring your own rights as a parent is no easy feat, but it is of the utmost importance. Our Jackson legal team will work tirelessly to ensure a fair outcome is reached that will benefit the entire family. As your counselors, we will provide honest advice and straightforward assessments and caring advocacy. Even if legal proceedings become heated and combative, you can trust that we will be here to protect you.
Contact us today at (601) 809-4144 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.