School breaks and holidays can be one of the most stressful times for divorced or separated families. Every parent wants to spend as much time with their child(ren) as possible, and spring break provides a good opportunity for vacations and quality time. However, when parents are separated, there must be a compromise between the parents that is in the best interests of the child(ren). Here are some tips for a successful spring break:
Follow the court order.
If you have a court order or parenting plan, follow the terms outlined therein. Any modifications to the court order should be in writing and clearly defined.
The dates of spring break are known well in advance. Any vacations or activities should be scheduled early to avoid any last-minute confusion or requests.
Many problems between separated parents could be avoided by open communication.
- When communicating about vacations, parents should provide detailed travel agendas, including flight numbers (or driving route), hotel information, and any scheduled activities.
- If a child is traveling out of town, parents need to discuss when the child will have phone/video contact with the other parent.
- Do not hide any problems. If a child is not behaving or is having difficulties, openly communicate with the other parent.
- If a child misbehaves during spring break and a form of punishment is warranted, parents should communicate with one another and support the punishment. This avoids the child triangulating the parents against one another or the child “using” one parent to avoid punishment. A common example is the punishment of a child by revoking video game privileges; this should be enforced in both households.
Sometimes it can be difficult for a parent to go an extended period of time without seeing their children.
- As difficult as it can be, parents should be supportive and excited for their children to travel, even if the travel is with the other parent. Voicing excitement for the children to travel with the other parent allows the children to have the freedom to be happy and excited without worrying about leaving one parent over the other.
- If possible, provide the children with some money to travel or purchase a travel-themed gift (suitcase, backpack, headphones, etc).
- The parent who is traveling with the children should encourage constant video calls with the non-traveling parent. This is especially helpful when something exciting or enjoyable happens. For example, if a child rides their first roller coaster, having the child video chat the other parent is a great sign of support.
- While in the midst of traveling, the traveling party should continually update the other parent on their whereabouts and any issues.
The key to co-parenting a successful spring break is to remain focused on the children’s best interests. By putting the children’s needs above their own, parents can encourage their children to freely express their emotions, as opposed to hiding them from one parent or the other. Whether it be a vacation, spending local quality time with a parent, or building memories with friends, every parent wants their children to have fond memories from their spring breaks. By following these tips, your children will grow up building positive memories and contribute to their overall happiness.
The attorneys at Burnham Law have extensive experience in drafting, enforcing, and negotiating holiday parenting time. Contact Burnham Law today to start building your child-focused holiday plan.