Summertime Custody Chaos

Posted: June 6, 2010 in family law
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I read an interesting article this morning on Divorce Without Dishonor. The article is found here. The article talks about how parents play games to gain extra time with their children during the summer. The author of the article talks about a personal child custody battle which occurred shortly after the ink was barely dry on the divorce.

The article further goes on to state that in many court orders, each parent is entitled to one (1) or two (2) weeks of summer vacation and the dates are usually left to the parties to work out. Often divorced parents are required to take turns each year in having the right to select their vacation time with the children first. Sometimes each parent is entitled to have two (2) non-consecutive weeks of summer vacation and as is customary, these weeks would replace or supersede the regular child access schedule and therefore necessarily “trumped” the other parent’s regularly scheduled time with their children.

The problem? The summer is only so long, and from school year’s end to the next start date it is usually about ten (10) weeks, i.e. about seventy (70) days. Neither party can plan with any certainty when the summer schedule isn’t confirmed or if it is in dispute because of misinterpretation or deliberate exploitation by playing “word games.” Taking an example with a regular schedule of children being alternating Friday, Saturday and Sunday overnights with each parent and during the week, with Dad overnight on Monday and Tuesday and with Mom overnights on Wednesday and Thursday.

When mom advises that she will take her first week after her five (5) day scheduled time with the kids, there will likely be a problem. By doing it that way, in fact, she will strategically choose days so that she gets at least (12) twelve or more overnights in a row. And of course no good deed goes unnoticed and Dad, when it is his turn to count will return the scheduling favor so each of his weeks will begin at the conclusion of his five (5) overnights so that he will the take his twenty-four (24) overnights (almost three and one-half weeks), as his two (2) weeks vacation. The bigger problem is that with (48) forty-eight (twenty-four 24 each) of maybe seventy (70) summer nights accounted for, what happens in between all of that? Hard to plan isn’t it? Who gets what? How much agreement is there likely to be and what kind of summer will your children have?

Might I ask, “How is it that (2) two weeks consists of 24 twenty-four overnights?” No wonder we need lawyers to figure this stuff out!

Yes, many parents continue playing games with each other for many years after they split. What they fail to take into account is that the ones losing in their games are the children. It is the children who don’t get to see the other parent for those 24 consecutive overnights with the other parent. When you have small children, it is especially important to these children that they have contact with both parents on a consistent basis. Believe me, when they are grown they will remember the games you play. So, if you are one of the parents who thinks that it is cool that you got one over on the other parent and are constantly playing “word games” with the orders in your custody matter, you may be out in the cold when your children grow up.

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