Summer break is a special time for children and their parents. However, it can be especially challenging for divorced or separated parents who are trying to find a way to arrange their co-parenting plans during this extended period of time. In this blog post, we’ll look at ways to make co-parenting during summer break a success for everyone involved.
Remember the Goal
Do not lose sight of the goal of your summer parenting time schedule. The ultimate goal should be a schedule that primarily suits the child(ren), not the adults. This means that parents need to be flexible and work together to come up with a plan that the children will feel comfortable with. Ultimately you will want a schedule that:
- Allows the children to freely participate in their sports/activities of choice;
- Allows the children to experience vacations and special events with both parents;
- Allows the children time to spend time with friends;
- Allows the children time with each parent and extended families.
The key to successful co-parenting during summer break is advanced planning. Vacations, special events, and sports/activities all need to be considered when creating a summer schedule. To make the process easier, communicate in advance with your co-parent and create a plan that outlines how you will divide the summer between both households. Remember that while the plan should include more than just dates and times, it should also consider any activities or trips your child may have planned.
A great starting point is to create an organized calendar together that outlines the different activities planned over the summer break. This will give both parents—as well as the children—an overview of what to expect during the months ahead. That way, everyone knows when activities like vacation trips, camps, or family visits take place and no one is left feeling confused or surprised.
Communication Is Key
Strong communication between both parents is essential for creating an effective co-parenting plan during summer break. Make sure to discuss all issues openly and honestly with each other so that you can arrive at an agreement that works best for everyone in the family. It’s also important to keep lines of communication open throughout the duration of the summer as well so that you can address any issues that arise quickly and effectively.
The method of communication can be important. Each family has different dynamics, so it is important to choose a communication method that best addresses the nuances of the family. In addition to the traditional means of communication (face-to-face, phone, emails, texts) technology can be a great asset when it comes to co-parenting during summer break. Colorado courts commonly order parties to utilize one of the following platforms:
- OurFamilyWizard: This software allows communication between parties through a message board. Additionally, the software has both an interactive family calendar and expense log for tracking costs.
- TalkingParents: This is an easy-to-use software that is built to allow communication between parties while keeping a timestamp of when messages are sent and read.
Be Flexible and Don’t “Keep Score”
Life happens and things come up unexpectedly. The summer months often mean spur-of-the-moment trips or changes in plans, so be willing to make adjustments in order to accommodate those changes, especially if they involve your child’s well-being or safety. By staying flexible, you can ensure that your co-parenting plans remain on track, even when the unexpected occurs. Additionally, many people tend to use these situations as ammunition against their co-parent. Parenting time is not about keeping score, and the focus should always be on prioritizing the children’s best interests.
Common Missteps During Summer Parenting Time
Any experienced family law attorney has come across the following recurring missteps:
- Telling the children they get to attend a vacation or activity without first clearing the time with the other parent.
- Failing to tell the other parent about a schedule change in activities, games, or vacations.
- Failing to be civil during the children's activities (A hostile environment at a child's game or event can result in the child no longer wanting to participate in these valuable activities.)
- Failing to facilitate phone/video calls with the other parent when the children are on vacation.
- Failing to be " excited for" and supportive of the children when they get the opportunity to go on vacation with the other parent.
- Expecting the judge to solve all of the problems (Colorado Courts are extremely busy and it is unlikely that any dispute can be resolved by a judge within the span of a summer break.)
Co-parenting during summer break doesn’t have to be stressful if you plan ahead, communicate effectively, and stay flexible throughout the process. By taking a proactive approach to managing your co-parenting arrangements over the summer months, you can ensure your child has an enjoyable experience without compromising either parent's comfort level or expectations.
If you need assistance in establishing a successful co-parenting plan for the summer months ahead, contact Burnham Law today. Our team of lawyers would be happy to help answer any questions or concerns you may have about making co-parenting work this summer!