Are You Ready For Summer Break?
As a parent, I know that summer break is a major gear shift for kids. It can also lead to parenting issues with your ex. On top of all the changes summer break can bring, the Courts typically are not in session as often and it can be harder to get issues in front of a judge. Here are my top family law tips for summer break parenting issues:
1) Improve Communication.
Yes, this can be tough. It's probably a big reason you aren't with your co-parent anymore. But these days there are some helpful, actionable tools that can help.
Our Family Wizard: this is a parenting communication tool that can really assist you two to keep your communication in a good place. It logs every message, it can be seen by your lawyer or by a judge, and it tells you when the message was read. It has a variety of other tools, like a calendar, to help you two to get information to each other.
Google Calendar: Simple and free, having a summer calendar of activities can minimize potentially negative interactions while informing the other parent of the child's activity schedule.
Keep it in writing: Simple, short, neutral communication in text or email is best for high conflict parenting situations.
2) Focus on Solutions. When we are at odds with an ex, it can be really easy to call up your attorney and say "I want to take this to Court." And while sometimes that is really warranted, sometimes it can be a little simpler. With my clients I like to focus on trying to come up with a solution before we spend the time and money to go to Court. This can be as simple as calling opposing counsel or the opposing party (if they are unrepresented by counsel) and saying "What can we do here?" It depends on the situation, but when we look at solutions over confrontation, we can usually get somewhere. Mediation is another option that is generally fruitful. 3) Make Sure You Understand Your Parenting Plan. It can be really helpful to sit down with your parenting plan and make sure you understand what it says about summer break, vacation time, and activities. If you are on the same page with the plan, you can fall back on it when you are dealing with your ex. If you don't understand something, you can contact your counsel (or book a consultation with a lawyer) and make sure you do understand. And, as always, I absolutely recommend that you make sure you have a copy of your parenting plan AND the court order signed by the judge that orders your parenting plan. Both are required to enforce the plan.
Of course, there are always situations where the only option is Court. However, with Courts taking time off in the summers, and the short nature of summer break, I am hopeful that some of these tips will help facilitate minimal conflict for you in the coming months. Enjoy the great weather, and the time with your kiddos!