Summer is on the horizon and for many of us this is an exciting time of year. The children are getting ready to finish school and long awaited summer vacations are now merely days away.
For so many people this is also one of the most stressful times of the year. For parents in the middle of divorce and even parents that have officially divorced the allocation of summer time sharing with the children can be extremely difficult. So many parents use the school calendar to guide them in establishing a time sharing schedule and many of these schedules are highly detailed and specific. The key problem is that this level of specificity is omitted in for summer time sharing. So often parties simply agree to “equally divide the summer.” While this is perfectly acceptable the failure to decide pick up and drop off locations (when school in not in session), summer camps, summer programs and vacations can cause a great deal of frustration for all parties involved.
Let us consider the typical example of one parent desiring to take his/her child on a one-week cruise in the month of July. Generally, this should not create a controversy between parents, however, it can turn into one very quick. Like many controversies the failure of the parents to communicate is so often the root cause of the potential conflict. If your parenting plan does not provide instructions for vacation requests during the summer or fails to provide any guidance regarding specific requests during periods when the children are not in school the best way to address this is to simply speak to the other party regarding this specific topic. You and the other parent must communicate regarding all matters related to your child. This is a core tenet of shared parenting. A simple phone call or email will go a long way when attempting to resolve a summer time sharing issue and in many cases will prevent a potential conflict from ever occurring.
Another key issue is when parents fail to read their parenting plans. Unlike the scenario detailed above, a good parenting plan contemplates all sorts of potential conflicts and has extremely detailed and precise instructions regarding summer time sharing. A potential controversy here is when a parent fails to follow the letter of the agreement. In these cases the parent either fails to follow the required procedure due to a lack of understanding or failure to read or is aware of the procedure and stubbornly acts in direct contravention of the parenting plan. Inevitably, if the parents cannot work it out these problems will result in a Motion for Contempt/Enforcement and with the limited hearing time available in our local courts it may be rather difficult to have this Motion heard prior to the conclusion of the summer. This can mean that summer plans are substantially impacted and there are few immediately available remedies to cure the problem. So often the summer is concluded and the children are back in school prior to the Motion being heard by the Judge.
It is best if you work diligently to resolve potential time sharing conflicts prior to the conclusion of the school year and the beginning of summer. Make plans and properly notify the other parent of said plans as far in advance as reasonably possible. Most importantly, behave as adults and not adolescent children. So often the parents behave in a spiteful and immature fashion with total disregard of the impact this has on their children. Generally, your children want to spend time with both parents; therefore, be cooperative and ensure this happens. Keep in mind that being reasonable does not mean capitulating to every demand made by the other parent. Find common ground and attempt to cure these problems before they occur with a highly detailed and specific parenting plan.
If you are worried about potential summer time sharing conflicts contact us and let us begin working to help you today. For more information on time sharing issues or any other family law issues, please contact the law firm of Schwam-Wilcox & Associates.