Like many California parents, you might have mixed feelings when your kids finish their last day of school for summer break. On one hand, you likely look forward to having more time with them, perhaps even taking a short vacation together. On the other, thoughts on how to juggle the logistics of it all, especially now that you're divorced, might cause you to lose sleep at night. Who will drive the kids to day camp? Do you have childcare set up, as needed?
Summer break can cause unexpected conflicts to arise between co-parents, as well. It depends on how thorough you were when you crafted your co-parenting plan. Even if a problem surfaces, however, there's not necessarily reason to panic, especially if you're well aware of your rights and know where to seek support to help protect them. Like most parents, your highest priority is your children's best interests.
How to de-stress co-parenting in summer
Respect is definitely the name of the game when trying to keep the peace between co-parents during summer break. Yes, you might need to re-arrange your schedules or make some changes to your school-time parenting plan, but as long as you're both willing to cooperate and compromise, things have a good chance of turning out just fine. The ideas included in the following list may be helpful in your situation:
- Acknowledge the fact that you and your ex both have private lives and either one may need help from the other with regard to childcare, child transport or other family issues.
- You'll be starting off on the right foot if you and your co-parent agree to keep lines of communication open at all times regarding your kids. You may not want to be married to each other anymore, but your kids are a priority you have in common, so agreeing to be available to discuss child-related issues helps co-parenting plans, especially in summer when unexpected changes may occur.
- If you are co-parenting long-distance, your situation may be a bit more challenging than co-parents who live short distances from each other. In such circumstances, details are important, such as writing out a scheduled calendar for travel ahead of time and agreeing to stick to the plan.
- You can incorporate as much detail in your co-parenting agreement as you like. For instance, you can write terms for vacation time, custody exchange times and locations, and any other issue you think will make summer break a lot less stressful.
Once the judge issues a court order, you and your ex are legally bound to adhere to it. However, if something happens that prompts a need for modification, you can file a petition to request it. Unless and until the court grants your petition, however, you must still adhere to the initial terms of the agreement. Peaceful co-parenting in summer is possible if both spouses are willing to work as a team. If not, then it's important to know where to seek immediate legal support, as needed.