School is out and chances are your kids are looking forward to a lot of sun, swimming, and zero homework. You may not be looking forward to summer, however, because without the schedule of school, your co-parenting arrangements may need to change or at least be altered temporarily. How do you handle vacations? Camp? Here are some tips on effectively co-parenting this summer.
1) Plan and plan. Summer camps start filling up in early spring, so this is a great time to sit down with your co-parent or mediator and devise a summer schedule. Figure out your vacation plans now‚ even if it is just to set aside a week or two on the calendar, and ask your co-parent to do the same. Depending upon how old your children are and their interests, you should also work out what exactly they’re going to be doing over the summer. Even doing nothing requires planning since they still need to have a place and a person with them while they are doing nothing. Again, get with your co-parent and figure out who will have the kids and when. If your parenting agreement states that one parent gets the kids for the entire summer, there still may be some flexibility in terms of getting a little time in with them.
2) Ask the kids what they want. If the children are old enough, ask them what their preference is for the summer. Ideally, this should not be an open-ended question but more of a list of choices and let them choose. Of course, the older the child, the more independent they may be, so this may not be as much of an issue.
3) Go in together on cost. Kids are expensive and a lot of that comes from activities, swim lessons, camps, and vacations. If you can, work out with your co-parent who will pick up what so that no one parent is spending a fortune without the other pitching in. Of course, this may already be spelled out in your parenting agreement in which case, go back and confirm that it is still a good distribution of financial responsibility.
4) Go with the flow. Co-parenting is as much about give and take as any other relationship. If your co-parent is dying to take the kids to Disney on a particular date and you were thinking about something else for them, be flexible and consider giving up your date so they can go. It’s also important to take into consideration that your kids are already having some adjustment issues due to school being over and they may not be seeing their friends as often. Take this into account as well as another reason to be flexible.
5) Don’t overdo it. If your co-parent is determined to take the kids to Paris, try not to take them to Rome too. Most divorced couples don’t have this problem, either from a financial perspective or an emotional one, but the desire may be there just the same to out-do the other parent in terms of showing the kids a good time. As always, this time is not about the parents, it’s about the children. They want to spend meaningful time with their parent, not watch an escalation of old battles and jealousies.
If you have questions about your co-parenting agreement, especially as it relates to the summer time, we are ready to help you understand your rights and craft an agreement that works for you and your co-parent. Contact us today to get started.
~Originally Posted in July 2017~