Birmingham, Mich. – May 8, 2017–As families begin filling their calendars with camps, trips and other summer activities, millions of divorced parents face the annual dilemma of how to share their children’s summer break. Jessica Woll, managing partner of Woll & Woll, P.C., a Michigan-based divorce and family law firm specializing in child-centric divorceSM matters and complex family law issues, offers the following summer vacation survival tips for parents to keep their cool even when the temperature rises:
- Remain child-centric; put the children first at all times.
“Childhood is fleeting, so a child’s needs must always be ‘number one.’ I remind clients to ask themselves what their child will benefit from most. What will create happy summer memories? When parents answer these questions as if they were the child, the answer places the child’s needs first,” Woll said. “And yes, this may mean allowing the child to go on that trip Up North with the other parent.”
- Be flexible to the needs of the children as they get older.
Woll stresses that as children grow, their needs change. “A parenting time schedule created when the child was four-years-old may not be right for the child at 15,” she said, also adding that what works during the school year may not be conducive to everyone’s summer schedules.
“If a judgment of divorce calls for equal parenting time throughout the year, including summer break, remember that mathematical equality might not be perfect for each child every year of their life until they reach 18 years of age,” Woll said. “Summer activities may call for the parents to put the needs and wants of the child first, and that doesn’t always translate to 50/50 time with each parent.”
- Don’t be afraid to concurrently share time with the children.
“As a divorce attorney for more than two decades, I have found young children want nothing more than to spend time with both of their parents at the same time,” Woll said. “If parents can stomach it, try to include the ex in one of the family events or plan a small outing – traditions and activities the children are used to during the summer months.”
Woll says this can be as simple as going on a family bike ride because it provides the togetherness the child wants while minimizing the amount of interaction between ex-spouses. In addition, it could also be the start of new family traditions.
“After divorce, children also start a new chapter in their lives. Starting a new tradition may help kids ease the loss they feel as a result of their parents’ separation,” Woll said. “Whether it’s playing a game in the backyard or taking a family trip, creating new traditions as the children grow can help make summer vacation more manageable and enjoyable for all.”
- Support the relationship your children have with your ex (fake it if you have to).
While one parent cannot control the others actions, they can control their own. So, if nothing else, “fake it ‘til you make it,” Woll said.
“It is never a good idea to utter even one negative comment about the other parent or his/her family. While many parents are divorced because they have been wronged by their ex, they may have to fake it and shelve their feelings,” Woll said.
“The children don’t need to be told how bad their mother/father will miss them while they are spending time with the other parent, see their mother/father crying when they leave, and/or hear ill comments about their mom/dad. Instead, children should be told how much fun they will have with their mother/father.”
- Allow for sufficient time to plan – and communicate!
Ample planning and communication can also ease summer vacation tension and ensure the time off goes smoothly for both the parents and children, Woll said. It may also save parents from heading to court at the last minute to enforce parenting time agreements.
“The goal is to stay out of court. Therefore, planning with the ex several weeks or even months before summer vacation arrives and confirming plans in writing can help facilitate the process,” Woll said.
About Woll & Woll, P.C.
Committed to excellence in child-centric divorceSM matters and complex family law issues since 1994,
Woll & Woll specializes in divorce and family law, including legal separation, post-judgment of divorce matters, removal of domicile actions, stepparent adoption, custody, child support, paternity and other family issues. Learn more at http://www.wollandwollpc.com.