I don’t know about you but I am excited that school is almost over. For us, next week is it! I’ve already scheduled out some camps and summer vacation plans. By now, I am so tired of the structure, homework packets, lunches, and practice spelling tests that I could scream. I’ve long stopped looking in my children’s backpacks for anything and I’ve found myself skipping some of those “mandatory” end-of-school parent activities because I am just burned out.
But how to manage summer is another topic entirely. These days, I work from home and enjoy huge flexibility. But I remember all too well scrambling to find summer camps for my children, managing visitation schedules, and backup plans if my children were sick or another activity came up.
And how many parents do I know that end up in a warzone over the summer plans of the children. One parent thinks it important that a child go on an expensive school-sponsored trip to Italy while the other parent refuses to pay half the bill. Or another parent thinks it perfectly ok that children are left home unsupervised to save money, while another parent wants them in structured camp, like swim or art. One parent may want to take the children on vacation during a week not typically hers. Or both parents have conflicting summer plans. I know parents who literally duke it out in court, spending untold money to work it out. When this happens, attorneys must get involved for the sanity (and sometimes safety) of everyone, including the children.
I am excited to offer excellent advice written by family law attorney Missy Boyd of High Swartz LLP (www.highswartz.com). Enjoy!
As each school year winds down, parents’ schedules grow more hectic. A parent’s calendar is filled with final parent-teacher conferences and end of the year class events. Meanwhile, determining summer childcare is at the top of their long to-do list.
Whether an attorney is working through an agreement for an open divorce case, or has been called upon to solve a dispute, it is important we craft a solution that is in the best interest of the entire family, and prevents future conflict.
When considering shared responsibility of school activities, parents who kept the divorce amicable may be able to attend events together, or can cooperate by taking turns. For the not so friendly exes, consider what is most important to each spouse, and what their personal schedules allow.
Also, contact the school. Nowadays most schools allow separated parents to meet with teachers individually and post report cards online for shared access.
This issue demonstrates why it is important to share the custody agreement with faculty once complete. It helps the teachers keep things as convenient as possible for the family, and the child.
Selecting summer childcare is an interesting issue because it can be considered an amenity and not a need. Also, there is virtually no legal precedent which delineates at what age a child can be left home alone, which can lead to some strong disagreements between parents.
Separated couples should think about summer childcare as early as possible. Permission of both parents is absolutely needed in order for a child to attend summer camps, especially camps where travel is required.
As an attorney, I always guide parents toward making a decision that is best for the child. Parents should think about providing their child with a comfortable atmosphere that includes recreational and educational stimulation.
It is crucial to make sure parents have gathered as much information about their child care options as possible. This makes it easier for both parents to come to a decision they each feel comfortable with. When parents are unable to agree and the Court gets involved, detailed information regarding atmosphere, safety, experience of care givers, benefits, schedule, location, program size, and more gains even greater importance.
A constant in all divorce cases is that the family’s life will be impacted for years to come. As attorneys, we can use our experience to anticipate challenges that clients have not thought of yet, and build a plan that makes co-parenting easier for the parents- and for the children.