Now that summer is upon us and most children are out of school for the year (or will be very soon), many families are preparing for some dramatic schedule changes. This is tough enough even if you are still married, as parents must make arrangements to have childcare for their younger children during the workday, enroll the children in activities or camps, or plan summer outings for enrichment and to keep the kids occupied over the long days ahead.
If you are divorced, summer break sometimes reaches a whole new level of challenge, however. Summer can bring custody or residence changes, a huge break in routine for vacations and trips and other schedule fluctuation that adults handle with ease but can be very stressful for children.
MAKING THE SUMMER LESS STRESSFUL
For many families, summer signals the time when primary custody changes from one parent (who either gets limited visitation during the school year or perhaps doesn’t see the children at all in that time) to the other or when they go away for vacation. This can be hard on children, particularly if the other parent lives in another town or state, since they are out of their home, away from friends and other family members and can feel adrift.
If the children aren’t prepared ahead of time with ample notice and as much information as you are able to share with them, things will be much tougher for everyone involved. Having an arrangement set ahead of time, including when and where you will be making the transition, can be helpful. Many couples choose to make summer custody information part of their divorce decree so that everyone has notice of it. Those who successfully navigate summer schedule changes remain in contact about upcoming trips or visits and freely share information as much as possible.
Allowing the children ample contact with their other parent during custody switches is also key to making the process less stressful on the children. Simply knowing that his other parent is only a call or video chat away – even during a relatively short vacation – can go a long way towards allaying a child’s anxieties.
Summer break after divorce doesn’t have to be contentious or stressful for everyone involved, but sometimes you may need the court’s guidance to finalize a custody and parenting time agreement everyone can live with. For help with custody-related disputes in conjunction with a divorce/break-up or that arise afterwards, contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.