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Avoid child custody problems on school breaks

Mar 24, 2022 | Child Custody & Support

Spring break has likely already passed for your child, but there are many breaks in the school calendar, including summer vacation. As such, there are still several things to keep in mind that can help you and your co-parent work together in an amicable fashion, so problems don’t arise while your kids have no school. If child custody problems occur, have a list of resources in mind that can help you resolve specific issues.  

Divorce inevitably causes disruption in children’s lives, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of happy family times. If you and your ex work together and focus on your children’s best interests rather than the issues that led to your divorce, you can create new ways of doing things as a family, which includes what type of routine you will implement when the kids are on vacation. 

Avoid assumptions and put everything in writing 

Making assumptions about parental availability is a recipe for disaster when it comes to co-parenting. For instance, if your ex knows that you have Fridays off from work and assumes that you are available to take care of the kids, problems may arise if he or she brings the kids to your house and you’re not even home.  

It’s never too late to construct a specific schedule regarding breaks from school. It’s best to “leave no stone unturned” to avoid confusion. It’s also a way for you and your ex to show mutual respect for each other’s personal time. Write out a schedule or, better yet, incorporate terms for summer and other holidays into your child custody agreement. 

Create a list of approved helpers  

Even married couples have to reach out for support from family or friends if kids have no school on days when both parents have to go to work. In a divorce situation, tempers may flare and co-parenting trouble can arise if parents fight over their work schedules.  

It’s perfectly acceptable for co-parents to hire a babysitter or take advantage of opportunities for day camps or other activities that might be available in their community when kids are home on break but both parents have to work.  

What if both parents have off and want to spend time with the kids? 

You might want to take your kids to the beach, go camping or share some other fun family adventure together. If you and your co-parent get along well, you might agree to get separate accommodations at the same vacation location so your children can still experience a family vacation with both parents at the same time.  

If you’d rather take separate vacations with the kids, you might want to count how many days are available, then divvy them up as evenly as possible. Some parents would rather swap years than days. You could look at a whole year’s worth of vacation days and agree on a plan, such as you sharing spring break with the kids while your ex gets them during the winter holidays.  

What if a child custody problem arises?  

You might go through all the trouble of writing out detailed plans and incorporating terms of agreement into a child custody court order, only to encounter legal problems if your co-parent doesn’t hold up his or her end of the bargain. If your ex is supposed to have the kids, then tells you that he or she isn’t available on the agreed-upon days or doesn’t show up to exchange custody, it’s a problem. 

Another benefit of signing written terms of agreement is that the court is able to enforce the plan if your ex disregards a court order. It’s understandable that you want your children to enjoy their time away from school. Even so, you can’t predict what type of legal issues might occur if you’re dealing with an ex who is uncooperative and prone to thumbing a nose at the court’s instructions. In such cases, it’s often helpful to seek outside support.