Summertime Child Access Arrangements
By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Howard_MacKinnon]Howard MacKinnon
Now is the time for divorced or separated parents to make plans for special summer time access. In the summer the usual routine of school and work gives way to vacations and the host of new activities extended daylight hours make possible. For most of the year it makes sense for the kids to spend most of their time with one parent and see the other on weekends or even just alternate weekends. But summer is the time for kids and "access" parents to really spend some quality time together. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when you are discussing summer access arrangements.
Nothing stays the same forever. Therefore, even if you have a court order or separation agreement that spells out in precise detail what summer access should look like, try to keep an open mind and be willing to take a fresh look at whether that schedule continues to serve the best interests of the children. Obviously as children grow older and other circumstances change a wise parent will take these changes into account rather than ritualistically following an outdated formula.
A word about deviating from court orders and agreements may be in order here. First, it is okay to change the terms by mutual consent without going back to court or signing something. However, if you feel more secure with something in writing a note, dated and signed, with the agreed upon changes should be fine. You should specify that the changes are by mutual agreement and that if one of the parents no longer agrees to the change then the original terms of the order or separation agreement come back into play.
The kids may have their own agenda which is different from Mom's and Dad's. It is important for the kids to spend extra time with their access parent and that should be encouraged by both parents. But it also very important that the kids be allowed to be kids. If everyone works together there should be time for Mom and for Dad and for camp, baseball, soccer, etc. Maybe it isn't possible to fit everything in so try to prioritize and to overlap things where possible. For example, maybe it can be the access parent who gets the kids ready for camp, sees them off and welcomes them on their return.
There are lots of special events and activities during the summer. Some of them might be just routine birthdays but others may be special family get-togethers, picnics, or special trips. It is important to consider the best interests of the children first and foremost when any of these events or activities conflict with each other. If conflicting events occur each summer than perhaps the children can participate with one parent this summer and the other parents next summer. If the events are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities than it would usually be wise for the other parent to give way and not force the children to miss out.
If the access parent is going to get extra time with the children over the summer he or she should be prepared to make the most of this time together. This might mean not only making the children your priority but making sure that they see that this is what you are doing. Perhaps turning off your cell phone, spending less time with your other friends or work for computer might be a good way to send this message to your kids and let them know how important they are to you. As for the activities you engage in with your kids, the younger they are the more they will be happy just to be involved in whatever you are doing. As they get older it will be you that needs to find ways to involve yourself in their activities, even if it is just to show an interest when they get home.
The bottom line is that flexibility and cooperation serve the children so much better than confrontation and rigidity. Even parents who have not separated must negotiate with each other and make trade-offs when making plans for how to spend the summer. Each parent needs to place the children's best interests above all else and this almost always means making sure they maintain a close relationship with the other parent.
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