Who doesn’t love summer? It’s a chance for kids to run through the sprinklers on hot days. There could be time at the beach or at the local pool. It’s for freedom and ice cream.
For parents who have broken up, things may not always seem so rosy. You’re working for most of the summer and need to make the most of what free time you have. Hopefully, you’ll get a chance at a vacation. In the meantime, you need to check your custody agreement or order to ensure you know where your kids will be at any particular time.
A divorce or breakup changes the dynamics of summer. Each parent wants what’s best for the kids, of course, but they also want all the time they can get with their children.
Be prepared to be flexible
If you have a good custody agreement or order, it should spell out what is required of you and set out a schedule for sharing time. This can be set up in a wide variety of ways. For example, you might decide to alternate weeks with the kids. Or, if that’s too frequent, you could alternate every two weeks. If one parent gets a greater share of time with the kids during the school year, you could have “make-up” time during the summer.
It seems straightforward until it isn’t. What if one parent arranges for an out-of-town vacation? You might have to swap weeks to accommodate that. What if one child wants to spend extra time with a friend? You could probably come to an accommodation around that, too. The trick is to communicate as soon as you know there might be a change needed.
What if we can’t agree?
Your custody agreement or order may include a mechanism for dispute resolution, such as discussing the issue with a mediator. That could take some time to arrange, so it’s best if you can resolve any disputes informally, if you can.
A mediator’s job is to help you communicate effectively and come up with a resolution that will work for both you and your ex. The mediator won’t make a ruling like a judge would but will encourage you to find your own solution.
If you genuinely can’t agree after going through mediation or whatever steps are outlined in your custody order, you can head back to court – but keep in mind that judges sometimes have little patience with petty disputes they feel could have been handled outside of court. You should think carefully before choosing that option.
If you’re having trouble, it can be helpful to work with a compassionate attorney who will go the extra mile for you.