When you’ve gone through a divorce with children, one of the most common questions you’re likely to have is how you handle vacations and periods when your children are out of school. Most kids look forward to vacations and extended holiday breaks, such as winter break; However, after a divorce, vacations — especially long stretches — can be a challenge for the parents.
Whether your relationship with your ex is amicable or relatively unfriendly, the good news is that there are things you can do to make sure vacations go smoothly. If you have questions about your holiday schedule and how it affects your case, it’s important to speak to an experienced North Carolina divorce and family law lawyer.
How Do Courts Determine Custody?
Under North Carolina law, the court has the final say in a custody agreement. Practically speaking, however, the majority of divorcing couples with children work out a custody arrangement that suits both parties and is acceptable to the court. While both sides will have to compromise, most people are able to reach an agreement that works for all parties. There are definitely circumstances in which the court must impose a decision on the issue of custody, but most custody decisions are settled between the parties and then formalized in a Child Custody or Parenting Agreement.
Whether the parents have joint custody or one parent has primary custody and the other has visitation rights, in most cases, the children will evenly split their vacation time between the two parents. It’s very important for both sides to adhere to the terms of their Parenting Agreement, as deviating from it can cause legal trouble and possibly even a loss of custody or visitation rights. If you feel like your children shouldn’t spend a vacation with your ex, and you have a good reason for this, you should speak to a North Carolina family law attorney right away. Your lawyer can help you explore your options, which may include filing a motion in court to change your Custody or Parenting Agreement.
Tips for Making Vacations Easy After a Divorce
Understandably, many parents dislike the idea of spending large amounts of time away from their children. This is one of the most difficult consequences of divorce for both the mother and father to experience. For example, if your children must spend a month or more with the other parent, you may worry about them and feel reluctant to let them stay away from you that long.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that kids need quality time with both parents. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can ensure your kids have a great time on vacation or extended holiday breaks.
- Honor your parenting plan – When you stick to the terms of your parenting plan, you reduce the likelihood of arguments with your ex. Try to follow the Parenting or Custody Agreement. After all, this is what you agreed to during the divorce process.
- Plan in advance – As with any vacation or holiday, advance planning never hurts. Talk to your kids and your ex about what they plan to do each day. Work out communication rules with your ex, such as when the kids are allowed to call you, and how your ex plans to keep you updated.
- Get the kids involved – Vacations and holidays should be an exciting time, especially for kids. Put their minds at ease by informing them of what to expect during your time together. If they’re old enough, include them in your planning sessions. Let them pick which places to visit and what kinds of adventures you’ll have.
- Stay in contact – Arrange acceptable forms of communication with your ex, along with how often you plan to check in. Social media makes it easy to share photos and videos, and apps like FaceTime and Skype can allow you to talk to your kids from just about anywhere. Be sure to adhere to the communication schedule. Remember that this is also your ex’s vacation time, and you want to make sure they have opportunities to spend quality time with the kids.
- Show your ex courtesy – Most people respond positively to positivity. By the same token, it is human nature to respond negatively when faced with a confrontation. Although it won’t always be easy, do your best to maintain an upbeat, positive attitude toward your ex. After all, the main goal is to help your kids enjoy their winter break or vacation time.
If you have questions about how to handle vacation time with kids after a divorce, or you need to modify a Parenting or Custody Agreement to reflect changes in your life or your children’s lives, talk to an experienced North Carolina divorce and family law attorney today.