It sounds like a trivial matter in the face of divorce, but summer break has a place amid the many sensitive family law discussions following a split. Predictability, consistency and stability are crucial to the well-being of children, especially following divorce.
Parents, therefore, should try to think of every way to avoid confusion in the future by creating as thorough of a parenting plan as possible, right from the start. To tackle the matter of summer break, it first might be helpful to understand the basics behind parenting plans in Texas.
Why Parenting Plans Are Important
Creating a sense of stability for the kids can help ease them into the new family reality after a divorce. Yes, divorce is a big change for the children, but the trauma of that change can be mitigated with thoughtful, effective planning. An effective parenting plan can lay out the solid foundation kids and parents need to move forward more confidently following a divorce.
According to Texas guidelines, the following are some of the major arrangements that parenting plans lay out:
- Where/with which parent will the kids live? Where is the “home base” for the children?
- When will the other parent get time with the kids, and how will that transition take place? The transition process should be as smooth, consistent and low-drama for the kids as possible.
- How will costs of parenting be shared, including major and sometimes unexpected costs such as medical care?
- If a conflict does arise when trying to co-parent after divorce, how will the parents work to resolve the issue without involving the courts?
Texas values the creation of effective parenting plans for the stability they can create for kids but also because of the co-parenting skills creating the plan can build. A co-parenting relationship is necessary for the parents to build and foster even when their marriage is over. Effective co-parenting can make post-divorce life happier for all involved, not just the children
Addressing Summer Break in a Parenting Plan
If you are in the process of creating your parenting plan, another important matter to address is vacations, including summer break. The regular schedule of the school year provides an easier sense of routine for the parents and the kids.
When school is out, many parents need to do more intricate planning to keep the kids busy and taken care of. Childcare, camps, classes, tutoring or a nanny might be needed to get through the summer, and parents should agree on a budget and how those things will be paid for.
Also, would some of the plans require an adjustment to the custody arrangement set forth in the parenting plan? Neither parent should assume the other will be okay with a change to the schedule. They should communicate and agree on any alterations and do their best to still create a sense of healthy stability for the kids.
Honor the Plan, But Also the Joy of Summer
You are an adult, but you probably remember and continue to enjoy the magic of summer. Think back to childhood and the memories made during summer break. Take those feelings into account when creating a parenting plan and working through the co-parenting journey with your ex.
Protecting kids from the potential trauma of divorce can also mean trying to preserve the joy of summer. That joy could easily be tainted with parental discord regarding schedules, costs and parenting time.
In my decades as a family law attorney, I have learned how to work with parents to help create parenting plans that work for them, their unique situation and to foster healthy co-parenting relationships. Make the best parenting plan you can the first time around to move on toward living the happier life you want, including happier summers. Contact the Law Office of V. Wayne Ward to get started toward your family’s new beginning.