For kids, the months of summer offer a refreshing change of pace. Many kids spend as much of it outdoors as they can. Others are involved in various activities, including camps, sports, and summer school. Since a child’s schedule can vary greatly during the summer as opposed to the winter months, divorced or separated parents may need to adjust their arrangement for custody. As the children age, it’s also possible that their school year schedule will begin to vary annually, too.
Whether you need to alter custody arrangements each new school year depends on your child’s schedule changes, the needs of your family, and how well you communicate and work with your co-parent. Generally, you should not need to make small adjustments each year, as long as you and your co-parent can handle those minor changes together. However, it is important that your parenting plan works properly with your child’s schedule–whatever that may be–and reflects the parenting time each parent should receive.
It’s not unusual for co-parents to have two basic schedules to use: one that is for the school year and one for school vacations and holidays. However, when you have changes that require major modifications and adjustments, it’s important to get those changes in writing and approved by the court. Before you contact your family law attorney about parenting plan modification, ask yourself these three questions.
Does the Current Plan Reflect Reality?
If your divorce or separation was recent, there is a chance that your parenting plan still reflects some of the emotions, negative or otherwise, that are often part of the divorce or separation process. This could mean that your current parenting plan has some unrealistic terms. Now that some time has passed, you may be able to work with your co-parent toward a more realistic plan. If this is the situation you find yourself in, it’s important to approach the modification process with an open mind and not bring in any of the old emotions that intruded on the plan’s creation initially.
Does the Current Plan Reflect Your Child Today?
Consider whether the current parenting plan reflects your child’s needs, activities, and age as they stand today. As your child grows up, their interests will change, and they will probably want to get involved in different or more activities than before. If your parenting plan was made when your child was 3, for example, and they are now 10, it’s likely the plan does not accurately reflect them as they are now and may need to be modified to reflect their change in age and interests.
How Well Do You and Your Co-Parent Communicate?
Ask yourself how well you and your co-parent are able to maintain clear and open communication. If you are able to work together and be civil with one another, it will be easier for you to agree on parenting plan modifications as the need arises, such as when there are major life changes. If not, you will need to work harder when it comes to changes to the parenting plan. In either case, your family law attorney can help you with the modification process.
Of course, changes to a parenting plan could be needed at any time, but the summer months are a great annual point for co-parents to consider whether a current parenting plan is working or if changes need to be made before the new school year starts. Work with your co-parent as best as you can on parenting plan modifications and contact your attorney for assistance so you can get any changes approved by the court.