It's spring time, and the end of the school year is fast approaching. For many parents planning and scheduling your children's summer camps and vacations starts early in the year. For divorced parents, this planning process can be even more complicated.
After a divorce, it is important to review your Separation Agreement, Parenting Plan, or Permanent Orders and make sure you know what the orders say about summer parenting time. For some co-parents, the parenting time schedule remains the same throughout the year, but for others additional summer vacation parenting time is planned into the Court's Orders. It is important to know what your orders say before planning events or camps during your co-parent's parenting time.
Here are some tips to help you work together with your co-parent to maintain a peaceful relationship and help your children have a great summer:
Often Parenting Plans or Court Orders will give parents a deadline to pick their summer parenting time. Make sure you know when you have to give your co-parent notice that you want to take the kids to Orlando for two weeks.
You should also consider the Court's orders when scheduling camps and sports for your child. Are these things going to fall during the other parent's parenting time? Is the other parent willing to take the child to camp every day? Who is going to pay for summer camps and special trips? It is important to review your court orders, and also talk to the other parent about these issues.
If you want to travel out of state, or out of the country, with your children you may be required to get your co-parent's written permission. You may also need to get signatures on documents for things like passports. Check your orders to see what you are required to do if you want to leave the state, or the country. Do not wait until the last minute to get your plans ironed out.
If you do not understand your Parenting Plan or Court Order, it is important to talk to a family law attorney before you travel with your children out of the State of Colorado.
If you know you want to take your children out of the state, or out of the country, on vacation make sure your orders permit you to do so. Once you make your plans, communicate them with your co-parent. Communication in writing will ensure you have proof of the communication, should you need it later.
Once your plans are solidified, share your travel itineraries, contact information, destination location, and trip itinerary with the other parent. You would want to know where your children are, if they were with the other parent. Consider how it would make you feel if the tables were turned.
As children grow, their needs grow and change. A parenting plan that was drafted when your child was two-years-old may not be relevant when your child is in middle school or high school. Be flexible with your co-parent in coming up with plans and solutions that will work for your child, and your family.
Summer is a time that it is especially important to be flexible. If your co-parent wants to take the children on a Disney Cruise, or on the trip of a lifetime, it would benefit your children to go on that trip, even if it cuts into your parenting time. If you can work out make up parenting time with the other parent, you should. But, sometimes summer camps and special trips interfere with regular parenting time. This is a time to consider being flexible, to promote the best interest of your child.
PUT YOUR CHILDREN'S NEEDS FIRST
Childhood is fleeting, and vacations help to build family memories and strengthen relationships. You should consider whether or not what the other parent is asking for will allow your child to make happy summer memories. Divorced parents often have a hard time seeing their children doing fun events with the other parent. It is extremely hard to miss out on the fun. As tough as it is, consider your child's feelings and try to put your child first.
Encourage your children to have fun with the other parent. Telling your child that you will miss them desperately, or crying when they leave, puts an emotional burden on your child. If you can happily send them off to your co-parent's home, your children will know that they are going to be safe, and that you will be happy without them.
It is also important to take care of yourself. If your children are gone for a few extra days, treat yourself and do something you would not be able to do with them around.
ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!
Summer is a wonderful time to spend time and make memories with your children. Even if you cannot afford an expensive vacation, try to plan special events with your children. Children love going to the park for a picnic, blowing bubbles in the back yard, or swimming in a local lake. Even things that seem mundane to you can be magical to your child. They just want to spend time with you. Have a great summer!