We are approaching that time of year again when decisions need to be made about where and how children will spend their summer vacations. Whether or not you have an iron-clad court order that specifies who will be spending time where, when, and for how long, odds are there is still room for disagreement on the fine details.
The last thing you want to do once you have established your child custody schedule is to argue over your kids, but sometimes it is unavoidable.
What can cause arguments over a summer parenting plan?
- Disregard for the parenting plan. The parenting plan and schedule exists for a reason and should be honored by both parents. Unfortunately, if a parent feels as though his or her time is being diminished because of required summer schoolwork or other obligations, that parent may disregard the plan and create one of his or her own.
- Using gifts or perks to buy affection. One parent overcompensates for the loss of time by spoiling their kids during summer vacation. Suddenly it is one big party with few, if any, rules, no chores, no bedtimes, few healthy meals, and lots of activity-packed days. This leaves the other parent feeling like the strict disciplinarian.
- Ignoring pick-up and drop-off times. The custodial parent misses the kids and begins missing pick-ups and drop-offs – perhaps by hours or even days. Sometimes, the parent may even use the child against the other parent, asking him or her to call the other parent and beg for more time.
- Kids manipulating their parents. The children get some extended freedom from the parent they live with on a regular basis and try to use it to their advantage. By pushing boundaries and breaking rules, they may actually create an acrimonious relationship between both parents, especially if the parents do not have a united front regarding discipline.
Dealing with disagreements over summer plans
Depending upon the issue that surfaces, your method for resolving the problem may take a different strategy.
- If your children are the catalysts, it is up to you as the parent to set the tone of expectations. Whether that means they will be allowed to stay up a little later than usual or can take on a new activity, speak with the other parent and reach an agreement before making unilateral decisions that can may impact their summer life.
- If your ex is the problem, consider what is best for your kids first, because a judge certainly will. If you feel your co-parent is crossing the line with constant interruptions that undermines your time with your children, politely reestablish the boundaries set forth by the schedule. Be firm and assertive about your rights.
- If you are the one accused of breaking the rules, then it may be time to modify the agreement or order. There is a difference between pushing a boundary and a pattern of behavior. If you cannot meet your own obligations because of work, your health, or other personal reasons, then modifying the custody plan may be the best thing you can do for your child, yourself, and your co-parent.
The key to maintaining any parenting plan is communication between co-parents. A good family law attorney can determine the pitfalls you need to avoid and provide solutions to keep you and your children on a healthy track as they grow up.
Hartsoe & Associates, P.C. offers comprehensive family law services in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and throughout the state. If you are struggling with your child custody and parenting plans, we can assist you. Please call our office at 336-725-1985, or fill out our contact page to initiate setting an appointment today.
For Tony, the law is a calling, not a job. He is a mountain boy, with simple, straightforward values. Tony loves what he does, and loves to help people through some of the toughest moments anyone will ever face. Learn More