Divorced Parents: Planning for Summer Vacation in South Carolina
Going through a divorce can be a very difficult and emotional experience. When divorce is accompanied by a question of how time with a shared child will be split, things can become even more challenging and contentious.
How a child will spend their time during the summer months is one of the biggest questions that divorced parents may have to answer. If you are a divorced parent, here are some tips for planning your child’s (and your own) summer vacation.
First, Turn to Your Custody Agreement
The first thing you and your child’s other parent should consider when making a decision about your child’s summer vacation time is your custody agreement. In most cases, summertime visitation and vacation splits are addressed in your child custody arrangement. You and your ex-spouse are expected to abide by that arrangement unless you both agree to vary from it. In other words, you can both share time with your child during the summer in a manner other than that specified by the court judgment, but only if you both agree on the changes. For example, if the agreement states your ex-spouse has your child over the Fourth of July weekend, but you want to go camping with your child during this time, your ex-spouse would have to agree to forego their specified visitation time. It is always recommended that any agreed upon changes to your custody order be made in writing, even if through just an email or text, so there’s never a question down the road whether the change was agreed upon.
Focus on Communication
Wanting to spend time with your child during the summer when your custody arrangement does not permit it, or when you and your ex-spouse cannot agree, can be very frustrating. While you may experience anger or sadness, you should focus on open, honest, and amicable communication with your ex-spouse. Not only is communication great for achieving an agreement that works for both of you, but it is also in your child’s best interests as well – coping with their parents’ divorce is difficult enough, children should not have to cope with constant bickering between their parents as well.
Be Willing to Compromise
Remember that no matter your disagreements, your ex-spouse loves your child just as much as you do, and no doubt wants to spend as much time as possible with your child. If you keep this fact in mind as you negotiate and communicate with your ex-spouse, you will be more willing to compromise and reach an agreement that is fair to both of you. Remember also that your child loves you both, and surely wants to spend time with both of you. If you and your ex-spouse are on good terms, consider spending time together during the summer with your child. An article published in the Huffington Post, which provides tips for summertime vacation for divorced parents, reminds parents to not make it a competition. Not only does this mean that you shouldn’t compete with your ex-spouse for time with your child, but also that the quality of the time matters more than the amount of time. In other words, don’t worry about buying your kid expensive presents or taking them to fancy places – what kids love most is spending time with their parents.
Once a Schedule Is Made, Stick to It
Whether as part of a divorce judgment or not, once you and your ex-spouse form a parenting time-sharing schedule for the summer, get it in writing and stick to it. Deviating from the schedule can be upsetting, and leave both parties feeling frustrated, and a child confused about how to feel or whose side to take (a position that no child should ever be put in). If you do need to make a schedule change due to a conflict or unexpected event, make sure you provide details to your ex-spouse as early as possible, and be prepared for whatever answer they give. If they don’t agree to the schedule change, accept their answer graciously and move on, looking forward to the next time you and your child will be together.
Work with a Professional South Carolina Family Law Firm
If you and your spouse are having problems coming to an agreement on spending time with your children, make sure you consider what is in your children’s best interests. If you are unable to come to an agreement, working with a professional is advised. A family counselor, mediator, or lawyer can all be helpful during a child time sharing dispute. At The Cate Law Firm, P.A., our experienced and compassionate South Carolina divorce attorneys can assist you with understanding the laws regarding child custody in South Carolina, as well as how to petition the court for a time-sharing arrangement that is legally binding. For your initial consultation, contact us today online or by calling (864) 585-4226.