Birmingham, Mich. – June 14, 2016 –School is out, summer has begun and kids and families across the nation are filling their calendars with camps, trips and assorted other activities. But with millions of divorced parents having to share time with their children, it may not be sun-time and fun-time for all. Jessica Woll, managing partner of Woll & Woll, P.C., a Michigan-based divorce and family law practice specializing in complex family law issues, offers summer survival tips for divorced parents.
First, according to Woll, in a time when childhood is fleeting, parents need to remain ‘child-centric’ at all times.
“A child’s needs always come first. I remind my 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.”
Woll also stresses the need to be flexible. 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 fifteen. Also, a schedule that 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.”
This may also translate into ex-couples sharing the children at the same time.
“As a divorce attorney for 22 years, 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.”
While one parent cannot control the other’s actions, they can control their own. So, if nothing else, “fake it till 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.”
Ample planning and communication can also ease the summer vacation season tension and ensure the time off goes smoothly for both the parents and children. 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.
Established in 1994, Woll & Woll, P.C. 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.