Now that Memorial Day is upon us, so is the start of summer. The start of summer also means the end of school, summer vacations and, quite often, great amounts of phone calls to the office about child custody and visitation issues. Having experienced this for a long period of time, I have put together this list of 7 tips to help you survive this summer. These tips, however, are not just for summer.
You need to remember one thing moving forward, your children belong to you and your ex together. No matter how you may feel about your ex, the children belong to both of you, and, as such, deserve both of you in their lives. Even if you have a new person in your life, you still need to be able to talk to your ex about the children. The biggest issue that persists is the lack of communication.
Here are the 7 tips to get you through this summer:
1) Plan Accordingly - Know of your summer plans early. If you are going to take a vacation and want your children to go along, let your ex know. Having planned things in advance allows you and your children to look forward to spending time together, especially if they don't live with you. This also allows for you and your ex to discuss the other things that are going on with your children's summer.
2) Be Flexible - One big issue that normally arises is that the parents are unable to fully agree on a schedule for the summer: vacations overlap; summer camps happen; day trips occur; and one parent is absolutely unwilling to amend their schedule. This only hurts the children. No matter what you think, you are not hurting your ex. Your children look forward to their activities just as much as they look forward to spending time with you so let them have their time, you will get yours as well.
3) Understand that there will be Conflict - No matter how much you plan and no matter your flexibility, there will be conflicts in the scheduling this summer. This happens all the time, and there is little that can be done about it. Getting angry about it only makes you out to be the "bad guy" and your ex may be trying to make you look that way. If you plan accordingly, then the conflicts should be kept to a minimum and the ones that exist should be able to resolved easily.
4) Follow Through - If you have made plans with your children make sure that you actually do whatever it is. Failing to show up only adds to whatever stress exists. Your ex has probably made plans for the time that you said you were planning on doing something with the children and, no matter how you feel about them, they deserve their time as well. If there is a true emergency, and not a work emergency, then attempt to reschedule whatever it was you had planned. Do not cancel your plans unless there is no way to follow through. (It would be okay to cancel a trip to the beach if there is a hurricane come though.) If, for some reason, you have to cancel your plans, do something else with your children and spend the time with them.
5) It's okay to be excited for plans that your ex has made - If your children are excited about something that your ex has planned for them to do this summer, be excited with them, it's acceptable to do that. Your ex's plans are not designed to make you look like a bad parent, they are designed to do something with the children. Tell them to call, or text or send you photographs of what they are doing so that you can see how happy they are. Remember, their happiness is not important.
6) Allow your Children to Have Their Summer - Children (of all ages) look forward to summer and your children are no exception. They have friends that they want to hang out with, trees to climb, lakes to swim and fish in, movies to see and other things that they don't want their parents to be involved with. All of this is acceptable. You will get your time with them and they will appreciate it more.
7) Have Fun - Years from now, you children are not going to remember everything that did and did not happen. They are going to remember the extremely high points and the extremely low points of their summer. If you don't allow them to have fun, they will have a harder time remembering the high points of their summer. Let your children have fun, even if it is with your ex.
The standard for determining how something should be handled in North Carolina, should a judge need to make a decision is "the best interest of the child." I cannot tell you what this mean because it is different for each and every instance. What I can tell you however, is that if you worry about how things will affect your children, you are probably doing pretty good as far as keeping the best interest of your children in sight.
If after all of this, you and your ex still cannot get along and you fell as though the children are suffering, please call the Scott Law Group at (336) 993-5000 to discuss your case with one of our experienced family law attorneys. We will do whatever we can to help you enjoy your summer