Summer will be here before you know it, and along with it, summer vacations. In a shared custody situation, planning a vacation can be a bit more problematic. Not only do you have to plan around your work schedule, but there’s also the matter of placement schedules with the other parent. Your summer vacation plans may also be causing unintentional stress for your co-parent who is staying back and missing out on the memories your child is creating. For a select few, vacationing with your child and ex may be an option worth considering.
A joint vacation can send a message to the kids that their parents are putting them first and want to work together to do what is best for them. Of course, steps need to taken to ensure that this does not backfire. Make sure enough time has passed to allow grieving and readjustment to occur in the broken relationship. The last thing you want on a joint trip is to have arguments, passive-aggressive comments, or just any type of tension that negatively impacts the trip and ruins the experience for everyone.
If both parties believe themselves to be ready, this can be a phenomenal opportunity to show the kids, and indeed society itself, that there are positive ways to handle a separation. However, care must be taken to not give the kids the wrong idea, especially young kids. If you have established a pattern of doing things together already, such as birthday parties, then this is simpler.
You do not want them to think this is the beginning of the parents’ reconciliation. Be absolutely crystal clear with the intentions and what is going on. That you are trying to keep a strong family dynamic for their sake and that there is not a chance of getting back together. Kids may still hope for that but this open communication can alleviate those concerns.
Well in advance of actually embarking on this journey, make sure that the expectations and responsibilities for each parent are clearly delineated. Failing to do so can lead to a very bad experience and arguments during the trip, which no one wants.
First of all, decide if new spouses/partners are invited, where everyone will stay, and which parent is paying for what. Money is often one of the bigger contentions in marriage and could very well be one of the reasons for the divorce in the first place. Avoid this problem completely with a solid, all-encompassing, expenses plan
Where to vacation is also another crucial factor to consider. You do not want to stay at any ex-in-laws and avoid places that have an emotional connection. Either of those can be a recipe for disaster. Find somewhere new as to not bring up any old emotions. The idea is to create new memories anyway so go to a place none of you have been.
Perhaps you don’t want to spend an entire vacation with an ex, a completely reasonable feeling. In this case, an overlap vacation instead of doing the entire trip together may be a better option. That way you get the best of everything, alone time as well as time with everyone together. This can be a great way to test the waters, so to speak, to make sure this is even plausible. If a joint-vacation is problematic then this way only a portion of the trip is compromised as opposed to the entire thing.
After deciding where to go on your trip, you can split the vacation into us, all, and them. The first part of the trip is one parent with the child, the middle would include both parents and child, and the final leg would be the other parent and child. Make sure you discuss attractions, day trips, or activities that the child would prefer to share with both parents. Planning the entire trip’s activities prior to leaving will prevent the first parent from ‘beating the other parent to the punch’ on the super fun stuff.
Everything about co-parenting opens up new topics of discussion, new ways to tackle activities, and new approaches to making it about the kids. A co-vacation is just one option to consider for your summer vacation plans. If this is something you and your co-parent think will work for your situation, the team at Family Matter’s Law Group can help create a custody agreement that provides an outline to make it happen.