With summer just around the corner, divorced parents may be thinking of new ways to split time with the kids. For the next 6-8 weeks, the kids will be home during the day. The Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays can also add to the conflict, allowing for two more opportunities for kids to spend time with the non-custodial parent.
Whichever side of the fence you’re on (custodial or non-custodial), it’s important to come to an agreement on how these holidays, and the summer vacation in general, should be handled in terms of parenting time.
Communicate with Your Ex and Plan Ahead
The first and most important thing is to communicate with your ex about the upcoming summer holidays and create a plan. Planning ahead of time will help you avoid conflict.
Discuss your potential plans for the Fourth of July holiday, and any other special visits that you may be considering (i.e. vacations).
The summer can be quite expensive for any parent between holidays, activities and additional child care costs. Decide in advance which dates each parent will have the children at home, and which dates each parent will take the child out.
Create a plan and stay organized. Doing so will help you avoid stress and frustration.
Be Flexible and Cooperative
The summer may only last a few months, but if you’re in constant conflict with your ex, those two months can feel like an eternity. Be as flexible and cooperative with your ex as you can, for the sake of your children and your own sanity.
Try not to be difficult about your ex wanting to take the children away from home. Now that the children are home, both you and your ex have more time to spend with the kids. Be fair and consider that you, too, may want to take the kids on a trip or excursion away from home. If you’re cooperative and flexible, your ex is likely to be the same way.
Be Open to Sharing Holidays
Although there are two major holidays during the summer months, the Fourth of July is arguably the biggest. Consider sharing this holiday with your ex by either splitting the day up, or even considering an outing together. The latter idea will only work if you and your ex can be civil, but if this is not an option, splitting the day will allow both of you to celebrate with the kids.
You may also consider another splitting arrangement, where one parent gets Independence Day and the other gets Labor Day. If that’s not agreeable, an arrangement where one parent gets the day before the holiday and the other gets the day of the holiday may work.
Do Follow Court Visitation Orders
At the time of divorce, a parenting schedule should have been created that outlined parenting time. A special holiday schedule should have been created as well. The holiday schedule takes precedence over the normal schedule, so keep that in mind.
If you and your ex are sharing custody over the summer (i.e. you get the children for the first or last half of the summer), holidays may disrupt your schedule, and your ex may have an extra day of parenting time, although the court does not consider this an “extra” day.
With a little communication, planning and flexibility, it’s possible to split parenting time during summer holidays without adding stress into the mix. Remember to put the children first and set aside your differences. Doing so will help your children forge happy memories of holidays and allow them to make the most of their time off of school.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm focusing exclusively on family law for men and fathers. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. Brad has experience working with child custody. You can read more on this topic by visiting our Child Custody & Support blog. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.