If you’re among Florida parents who have recently divorced, you’re likely still adapting to your new lifestyle. You and your ex were hopefully able to achieve a fair settlement that you both found satisfactory and developed a co-parenting plan. Many parents, however, neglect to think ahead to summer break, holidays and other extenuating circumstances that may necessitate special instructions in a co-parenting agreement.
Thinking ahead and discussing important issues now can help you avoid problems down the line. If you haven’t yet finalized a custody or visitation agreement, you can incorporate instructions regarding summer months and other special occasions into your plan. In certain circumstances, it’s possible request modification of an existing plan, as well. In all child-related matters of divorce, however, the court must grant approval of modifications and has final decision-making authority.
Customize your plan
While you may be able to learn from other people’s experiences, no post-divorce family situation will be exactly like yours. This is why it’s crucial for you and your ex to be able to peacefully communicate to lay out a plan that meets your particular needs and protects your children’s best interests. The ideas included in the following list may be helpful:
- Be specific: If your kids will be staying at different houses during the summer, it is best to write out instructions in as much detail as possible. If you and your co-parent will share or alternate holidays or vacation time, include instructions for those times, as well.
- Work out financial issues ahead of time: When kids are home a lot more often during summer, expenses increase. To avoid arguing over who’s going to pay for what, incorporate these issues into your co-parenting plan.
- Be willing to compromise: Keep in mind that job obligations, illness and many other issues can prompt a need for sudden changes in a summer schedule. Make up your mind that you will be flexible and respectful of your co-parent’s needs to avoid disputes and legal problems over the summer.
- Don’t compete for best parent awards: If your ex is taking your kids to the beach but you can’t afford a similar vacation, don’t worry about it. What your children need most as they cope with your divorce is to know that you are there to support them and help them over the rough spots.
Trying to win your children’s affection or loyalty by outdoing your ex at every turn may not only lead to problems in your co-parenting plan but it might cause your children stress and confusion, as well. If a legal problem arises during summer or any time after you finalize your divorce, you can ask the court to intervene to help you resolve the issue.