Take the start of a new year to do something that may pay dividends later: reviewing your child custody agreement. This is an excellent time for parents with existing child custody orders to reassess their arrangements and review how their situation has improved to alter prior court orders.
Read through the order you currently have with a focus on the upcoming summer months to get ahead of any visitation schedule changes. We want to help families understand why the summer months are often the most contentious and how you can mitigate those issues.
At Easterling Family Law, we understand the dynamics of co-parenting and the importance of having a well-structured custody order that serves the best interests of your children and fits your family’s unique needs.
Why Should I Review My Order Now?
Many custody agreements include specific stipulations for vacation times, especially during the summer. It’s common to find clauses where one parent (for instance, the father in odd years and the mother in even years) can pick which week(s) they will have the children. This structure aims to provide a fair and predictable schedule, but what happens if someone else is choosing this year and you’ve already planned and invested in a trip?
Imagine you are prepared to take your children on a family vacation for your parents on their sixtieth wedding anniversary. If it was not your year to choose, or you didn’t submit your dates early enough, then there is a chance that your spouse has the right to refuse your request. This scenario underscores the need to review your custody agreement earlier in the year. It’s a step to ensure your plans align with the custody schedule, avoiding potential conflicts and disappointments.
When to Open Pandora’s Box
Here’s a golden tip: If your co-parenting situation is harmonious and the existing custody order works well, there might be no need to delve into it. Some couples rarely look at their agreement simply because they have developed a routine where they discuss everything openly and honestly. These people may be in a position where asking for a specific date for a special occasion is enough for the other parent to agree.
Sometimes, revisiting the order without necessity might stir up issues where none existed. However, if there are pressing reasons to review the order, such as planned vacations or summer camps, it’s crucial to know your agreement and obligations.
What To Look For
- Holidays and Vacation Time: Check who can decide this year’s vacation weeks. If it’s not your turn, communicate with your co-parent about your plans. Early discussion can lead to amicable adjustments that work for everyone. There may be a specific date when you have to tell your spouse what weeks you want. Don’t overlook this deadline and put yourself in a compromising position later.
- Visitation Schedules: Are there changes in either parent’s life that might affect the current visitation schedule? Now is the time to address them.
- Summer Camps and Activities: Many parents register their children for summer camps in early February. Knowing where your children will be during the summer and how long before committing to these activities is vital. This requires a clear understanding of the custody schedule.
- Mediation: Disagreeing on changes to the custody order doesn’t necessarily mean heading back to court. Mediation is an effective tool for resolving such disputes. It’s a less adversarial process, often leading to solutions that respect both parents’ wishes and prioritize the children’s well-being.
Reviewing your child custody order now, particularly with a focus on the upcoming summer, can save you from future stress and disagreements. It’s a step towards ensuring your children’s summer is enjoyable and well-organized, accommodating parents’ plans and the children’s best interests.
Remember, at Easterling Family Law, we’re here to help. Whether you need advice on reviewing your custody order, assistance with mediation, or any other family law matter, our empathetic and supportive approach is always at your service. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation. Let’s work together to ensure your family transitions smoothly into the summer and beyond.