You are fortunate if your court-ordered child custody arrangement is working with few glitches. Maybe this is because you and your ex-spouse were able to come to an agreement on your own or through mediation. Holidays may have been difficult at first, and you may have found it upsetting to spend the time away from your children. However, the schedule is as fair as possible under the circumstances.
The next big hurdle is summer. Everything changes when the kids are out of school, and you may already be discovering that following a rigid schedule is going to be difficult. You may be tempted to toss out the custody agreement, but experts say this is not a good idea.
Flexibility is important
It may be necessary to adjust your scheduled parenting time during the summer, and already, just a short time since the last day of school, you may already be frustrated with the conflicts arising. Without the structure of school days, children may make spur-of-the-moment plans. Some things that you may expect to interfere with your custody plan include:
- Vacations, yours and your ex-spouse's
- Summer camps
- Kids wanting overnights with friends
- Kids wanting to be where they can swim or play in a park
- Other activities like carnivals, picnics and fireworks
Communicating with your co-parent about these events may reduce the frustration of trying to stick to the schedule. You may find that the children prefer being at your ex-spouse's house more if he or she has a pool or lives closer to their friends. Family counselors advise parents not to take that too personally, keeping in mind the emotional turmoil many children experience when separated from parents for any length of time.
Protecting your rights
Agreements you make with your spouse will not be legally binding unless a Colorado family court approves them. In fact, your word against your ex-spouse's may become grounds for custody disputes if there is a misunderstanding. Family counselors do not advise making any custody changes or agreeing to changes without consulting an attorney.
Meanwhile, if you and your spouse find that the custody ruling made at the time of your divorce is no longer working, you may wish to discuss the option of modifying it in family court. Your attorney can advise you on the best way to proceed to ensure any custody modification preserves your parental rights and protects the best interests of your children.