Surviving the Summer When You Have a High-Conflict Co-Parent
If your child’s other parent is a high-conflict individual or is difficult to work with regarding child custody and parenting time issues, this can lead to a difficult time in the summer when your child’s structured schedule with school no longer applies. You may need to negotiate significant issues, including vacations, summer camp, or even just downtime for your child or children. When your child’s or children’s other parent wants to fight you on every issue, this can make navigating the summer seemingly impossible. However, there are tips you can follow that might make working with a high-conflict co-parent in the summer easier for you and your children.
Tips for Working with a High-Conflict Co-Parent
Several key tips for working with your child’s or children’s high-conflict parent include:
- Maintain boundaries – Unfortunately, high-conflict ex’s may enjoy walking all over your boundaries, even where your children are involved, by trying to butt into your parenting time with your children or micromanage how you spend your time during the summer with your children. If this occurs, you should not get sucked into a debate, which is what your ex wants. Instead, you can defuse the potential conflict by simply thanking your ex for their suggestions about how you can spend your parenting time with your children and then terminate the conversation.
- Stick to the schedule – While ex’s who amicably work together can have flexibility with the parenting time schedule, including agreeing to extended vacations or having more frequent custody swaps in the summer, deviating from the court-ordered schedule with a high-conflict ex will only invite chaos. Instead, you can reduce the possibility of conflict by having structured parenting time. If the schedule is the schedule, there’s less opportunity for your ex to start a conflict over parenting time.
- Plan for the worst – Of course, you should also plan for your ex to try to disrupt your summer plans, including your plans by yourself as well as your plans with your children. Tactics that a high-conflict ex may engage in include failing to drop off your children in time to make a flight for vacation, planning trips during your scheduled parenting time or planning trips by themselves when they have scheduled parenting time, or making frequent calls to your children during your vacations. Build in a little flexibility into your plans, such as setting departure times the day after a hand-off, having separate clothes and toys and other supplies for your children so you don’t have to rely on your ex to return items with your children, and holding onto cell phones so your children don’t feel burdened to constantly answer their other parent.
- Decide on summer activities early – As an extension to “sticking to the schedule,” you should also plan summer activities as early as possible. If you want to put together a vacation with your children during your parenting time at the last minute, you will only invite your ex to object or put up other obstacles that will ultimately prevent you from putting together your plans. But if vacations and other plans are decided prior to or early in the summer, it makes it easier to stick to the schedule.
- Have summer schedules planned out – Finally, you should specify in your divorce or custody agreement how your children’s summer activities will be planned out, including how payment for activities like camps or sports will be split between you and your ex and how custody exchanges will work if your children are away for summer activities.
Contact a Cherry Hill Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Child Custody in New Jersey Today
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of assets, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. Family law attorney, Lois Garber Schwartz, Esq. represents clients throughout Southern New Jersey including Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, Voorhees, and Pennsauken. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 482-8799 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 1040 Kings Hwy. N., Suite 202, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.