In arriving at a parental access schedule the concept begins with the goal of protecting and nurturing the children. The schedule should be fair to both parents and healthy for the child, who is not getting a divorce. As the adage goes: future relationships must persist despite the exacerbation of the divorce. Cutting edge mental health science teaches us that the child’s ability to accommodate competing loyalties – – parents who do not like each other but who both love the child – – does not fall into place until the child is in her or his early 20s. With that in mind, divorced and separated parents in New York divorces should be steadfast in their committment to minimizing the impact of their breakup on their children. This often requires creativity for both parents to maintain meaningful relationships with the children in different households.
One certain parental challenge is the management of a visitation and parenting time schedule over the summer, a qualitatively different bloc of time from the school year. Those summer concerns include: family trips, summer camp sports activities. Another certain challenge is the evolution of the child’s interests over the decade or longer life of the parental access schedule.
In many cases, these issues will be addressed in the original child custody agreement. However, children’s needs change as they get older. While there may be little disruption in the summer schedule of a small child, preteens and teenagers may be involved in summer activities such as camp, summer school or volunteer work. Teenagers may also have summer jobs.
It is important for parents to work together to ensure that the spirit of the agreement is upheld while also accommodating their children’s needs. In some cases, it may be appropriate for parents to review the current custody plan to determine whether it serves the individual needs of the child or children, and the more specific the plan is, the better.
Parents who are concerned about conflict regarding summertime visits may decide to speak to a family law attorney. He or she might review the current parenting plan and, if appropriate, may be able to recommend a custody modification. In such cases, the lawyer may decide to work with the client to ensure an up-to-date custody agreement that benefits the entire family.