It's spring now, which means summer is right around the corner. This means the kids will be out of school. As a newly divorced parent, this could prompt several challenges that you and your co-parent might not have anticipated. Your first post-divorce year is definitely a learning year. You and your kids, as well as your ex, are all adapting to new lifestyles and to a new family dynamic.
Fortunately, you can help yourself make summer break go smoothly. You can apply these tips to other holidays and school vacations too. With your children's best interests in mind and a willingness to cooperate and compromise as needed, you and your co-parent can help your kids build new memories and enjoy family time off school, even if both parents no longer reside under the same roof. If a problem arises, it's a good idea to have a support system in place.
Incorporate these tips for co-parenting into your agreement
You and your ex can customize your co-parenting plan. While the court may order child support, stipulate certain visitation schedules or otherwise have input in the ultimate contract, as parents, you can request that certain issues regarding summer break or holidays be included in your signed agreement. The following list includes issues you might want to incorporate into your plan:
- Address where your children will stay over the summer. Your and your ex's work schedules may influence this decision.
- You may want to alternate breaks, with kids staying with you one year and their other parent the next.
- If you each plan to vacation with your children, you can list the dates of your scheduled plans in your agreement, if they will be the same every year. You can also generalize by stating, perhaps, that you get the kids a week over the summer while your ex gets them for a week during winter break.
- Summer often involves activities that cost money. Even your grocery bill might increase when kids are home from school all day, which is why it helps if you and your ex discuss such matters ahead of time and work out a financial plan.
- Some parents agree to vacation together so their kids can experience spending time with both parents at once. You'll likely want to write out some ground rules if this is your plan.
- Enlist the aid of extended family members. Summertime is a great time for kids to visit grandparents or spend time with aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
- If you both have to work, you can try to swap childcare with friends. Compare work schedules and work together with other parents so that you can help them out and they can help you.
A post-divorce summer break needn't be overly stressful. If you think ahead and are willing to work together as a team for the sake of your children, you'll likely be able to execute a plan that is enjoyable and satisfactory to all involved. Life isn't perfect, however, and it's not uncommon for legal issues to arise, especially if an ex-spouse is less than cooperative. You can protect your parental rights and rectify problem situations by seeking legal guidance and support as needed.