After a divorce, dealing with the ins and outs of reasonable child custody and parenting time is a challenge for any family. The parents have to coordinate and communicate, the children have to adjust to new homes and schedules, and there are always a few awkward moments. In all this, if the children can maintain loving contact with both of their parents they tend to be better off than those who have minimal contact with one parent. It is very difficult for children when their parents argue.
Every Other Weekend
No matter what kind of parenting time arrangement you reach as part of your divorce, you worry that your ex won’t know how to take care of them or that past problems will surface during the other parent’s scheduled time. If the other parent has issues or has not been a hand’s on parent, you worry. Concern regarding your children happens whether the other parent has every other weekend or shared parenting time.
While you can’t keep your children from the scheduled parenting time, you can take an active hand in making sure they’re safe, happy, and in a child-friendly environment.
Making Sure They’re Safe
The first thing every parent worries about when their children are out of sight is safety. Depending on your ex’s personality and history, your idea of unsafe could be anything from unlocked doors to the other parent hanging out in bars. Be prepared to discuss your concerns with your attorney. If the issues involve neglect or abuse (verbal and emotional as well) then the need for a custody evaluation may be necessary.
Always make sure your children, if old enough, know how to get a hold of you or another trusted family member or friend and that they know how to call the police. Even if you trust your ex, this is something most modern children should learn and may help them in an emergency that is not your ex’s fault.
Packing Their Bags
In most cases, don’t have your children live out of a suitcase. Each parent needs to stock enough clothes and supplies so that the children are not feeling like they are visitors.
Each parent should make sure that the children have the following with them during their parenting time (or that it is stocked appropriately at each house) :
- Tooth-brushing kit
- Glasses and their case (if they wear glasses) or contacts
- Shampoo and body wash
- 2 Band-aids
- Feminine (if teenage girl)
- 3 Outfits for each season
- Outdoor jackets
- Socks and Underwear
- Sleeping bag
- Stuffed Animal
- Packaged healthy snacks
- Fresh fruit
Working as Allies
The next step is to resolve to work with your ex. No matter how you feel about them or where your relationship stands, this is for your kids. Running them around, hiding them from your spouse, or fighting at the hand-off only makes more stress for everyone no matter who starts it. Instead, do your best to work together as parents. Mention if a child has homework or is having trouble at school and coordinate to get kids to weekend events without too much regard for whose weekend things fall on. Working together and being reasonable is the best thing for the kids and will look good in court if it comes to disputes or agreement changes later on.
With modern technology the hand-off doesn’t have to be the last time you see your kids for how every many days. If you send them with a streaming-capable phone, tablet, or laptop, your children can set up and video call with you during the weekend parenting time (as long as a court order doesn’t say differently). The best way to do this is to coordinate a check-in with your spouse and let your kids know that they can reach out at any time. Mid-morning, late afternoon, and just before bedtime may be the most convenient check-in times. Decide on the frequency based on how worried you are and how well your kids are doing and discussions with the other parent.
Having a Back-up
The last thing you can do to make sure your kids are safe with your ex is to always have someone who can answer the phone and pick them up just in case something happens. Whether that something is violence, a wild party, or simply that your ex fell asleep for 16 straight hours, be available or arrange for a friend to be available.
Dealing with custody and parenting issues is never easy, even if you have full custody of your children. Sending them away to spend time with your ex can be hard but the most important thing is to make sure your kids are safe and having a good time no matter which parent they are with. Of course, the current custody situation may not always be what’s right for your family or things may have changed which means that the parenting schedule may need to change. Be sure to have an experienced child custody and parenting time lawyer you can call to help with the updates. For more child custody tips or to speak to an experienced family lawyer, contact us today!