Summer Visitation and Custody Issues

Each summer, thousands of parents reach for their custody papers.  They need to re-read them to confirm which week is theirs, or if their ex can really insist on a certain schedule with the children.  Inevitably, visitation issues arise which were not anticipated, or for which no arrangements had been made.  While many standard visitation schedules include parenting plans and “notice” provisions to ensure each parent may have some uninterrupted time with the children, there are always things which were not considered or planned for.  For instance, family weddings and funerals.  These events happen, and it often seems that they happen when the party who wants the children to attend them does not have parenting time scheduled with the children.  So what can be done?  Obviously foresight is the best plan.  Adding language to settlement agreements that allows a party to have the children at such events may help.  But the next best option is to always consider what is best for the children.  Even though a parent may have the right to have the children during a certain time period, if it is best for the children to go with the other parent (due to a wedding or other event), then hopefully an accommodation can be made.  This issue will almost always come back eventually and hopefully a favor will be returned.

Another related issue is what to do about step, or half siblings?  While a non-custodial parent may prefer to only take their own biological child to Disney World, if there is a step or half brother, perhaps that child should come along too?  That certainly will not always be best or even possible, but from a child’s perspective, think of the dilemma for the child.  They get to go to Disney World or somewhere fun while their sibling stays home and becomes jealous.  Wouldn’t it be better, in some cases, to let them both go, so they could both enjoy it and reminisce together about the fun trip they had?  Certainly there are other issues that go along with this, but perhaps the parents, and step-parents ought to at least consider this, even if it means spending money on their “ex’s other child”.  That child is also their child’s brother or sister.