Thank you, Leah Villalobos, CDFA, for sharing this guest blog on such an important topic. Additional information about Leah can be found below.

How to make joint custody work in the summer

Coordinating schedules when you’re divorced and have joint custody of the children can be trying at the best of times. When summer vacations roll around, the coordination may become even more of a task, especially when you’re planning for child care now that they aren’t in school a good portion of the day.

What can you and your ex-spouse do to make the transition from school year to summer vacation as stress-free as possible? We have a few tips.

  • Don’t speak ill of your ex. This is good advice any time of the year but may be more important in the summer months with the additional hours of child care that may be involved. Don’t color your child’s view of his or her parent based on your relationship with your ex. Just because it didn’t work out with the two of you and just because your spouse may have been “bad” doesn’t mean he or she will be a “bad” parent. Separate your thoughts on the two situations – marriage and parenthood.

  • It’s about the children. Regardless of how frustrated you may be with the summer schedule coordination, remember you have joint custody because it’s in the best interests of your children. The hardest part for many divorced parents is realizing that the children of the marriage are not a prize to be won. Your children are a gift to be cherished, and shared, with your ex.

  • Set realistic goals. If you don’t have the time or bandwidth to step in and take the children for the entire summer, don’t offer. Making an unrealistic custody grab will not benefit anyone. Know what time you have free, know what your children need and come to an amicable agreement with your ex.

  • Each child is unique. Keep your children’s ages and unique personalities in mind when setting up your parenting plans. One child may love the idea of being with dad for a few days then mom for the rest of the week. Another child may not thrive in a split environment like that and may want to only go on the weekends or may want to go every other day. Talk to your children and try to do what is in their best interests, within reason.

  • Communication is key. Whether you “talk” to your ex through texts or email or phone calls, you need to have a way to communicate that works for the two of you when it comes to talking about the children. It may make sense to set up a shared Google calendar to make it easy to see what each child has going on for his or her activities, holidays, family gatherings, etc. that way there will be no surprises – it’s on the calendar.

Schedule time every few months to review the parenting agreement and see if it’s working or if it needs to be tweaked. Talk with your ex now, before school lets out for the summer and make your arrangements for family vacations, your children’s activities and other summer commitments that may arise.

If you need someone to mediate the discussion about parenting plans for this summer, contact me so you begin the summer with a solid plan in place and avoid last minute stress.

About guest blogger, Leah Villalobos:

Leah Villalobos is committed to helping clients transition through divorce as painlessly as possible. Founder and President of Great Lakes Divorce Financial Solutions, Leah Villalobos is a trained Mediator, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) and Master Analyst in Financial Forensics (MAFF). Leah began her career in the investment and financial services industry more than ten years ago. You can find her on the Northeast Ohio BizTV network, where she hosts “Facing Your Financial Fears.” She is also regularly interviewed as a divorce expert for Mimi Vanderhaven. She holds a Master of Arts from Ursuline College and a Bachelor of Arts from Bryn Mawr College.