Two weeks in the sun sounds fun with the family but can represent a challenge for many separated and divorced parents. Divorce Court Orders frequently provide contact for the annual summer break with the Kids, leaving dates to be agreed between the parents.
When parents can’t agree, I and other family law solicitors help to negotiate or mediate arrangements between separated parents or take unresolved disputes back to the Divorce Court for it to dictate where, when and with whom children will be over the summer.
In two blog posts – “Preparing for the Summer” and “Surviving the Summer” Christina McGhee, internationally acclaimed divorce coach and parent educator gives tips on how to ensure the summer sun isn’t overshadowed by family fall outs and legal confrontations. I have drawn out the following three Do’s and Don’ts that I have seen can make the differnce for my clients in Bath & Bristol:
- Do plan early and commit to decisions made – Plan the arrangements for the summer holidays as early as possible. If you commit to doing something make sure it is followed through. Last minute clashes and changes are not easy to resolve. Children need their parents to make decisions and to stick to them
- Do support your child’s contact with the other parent – Be positive about your child spending time with their other parent. Let the children know it is OK with you that they are going away and that you will be OK too whilst they are away. It’s best for kids when both parents can be supportive of their activities and share in their excitement.
- Do help children maintain contact with the other parent – Provide the other parent with contact information and details as to where the children are going to be and who with. Let the children communicate with the other parent whilst away.
- Don’t talk through the children – It is tempting to relay information through the children when talking with the ex is difficult. But messaging between households is a burden children shouldn’t have to bear. Make sure you are the one delivering news about trips you are proposing to take and scheduling needs surrounding them.
- Don’t ambush the other parent – When making holiday plans, don’t set the other parent up. “I would really love for you to come with me to Spain, but it’s really up to your Mum to say yes” is neither fair on the child nor Mum. Instead, “A trip abroad would be lots of fun but before we can make plans, I need to talk with Mum to see if we can work out the details.”
- Don’t make your kids pay the price – If you make a decision to foot the holiday bill or move your schedule around to make a trip work, don’t make your kids pay the price. Whilst a trip abroad may be a wonderful experience for the child, it probably won’t be so wonderful for very long if the child has to listen to what Dad did or didn’t do to help. Children do not want to take sides – don’t make them.
And finally …..Conflict is the major cause of unhappiness and poor outcomes for children. Let’s have family fun in the sun this summer by focusing on the needs of children.