For many families, favorite summertime activities like overnight camp and summer vacation plans didn’t happen last summer due to Covid-19. We’re in a very different place with the pandemic in 2021 and this summer in New Jersey could feel almost back to normal. (Hooray!)
If you changed your usual parenting time plans last summer due to Covid restrictions, it’s time to check these plans over and possibly revise them (in writing) to reflect your custody schedule and parenting plans for summer 2021.
Not sure what to add or how to work with your ex on making modifications? Here are some easy tips to get your parenting time schedule prepped for summer.
Revise Any Covid Parenting Plans
Pull out a copy of your child custody agreement and parenting time plan and see what it outlines about the coming months. Did you make any temporary changes last summer that now need to be undone? Flag these with your ex and see how you can officially end your Covid parenting plan, or at least update it to better match your present situation.
For example, you may have a written agreement from last summer that states you accept 50/50 in-person/virtual parenting time due to social distancing needs. Carefully look over modifications like this for specific end dates that may be included. Was the temporary agreement dated that it only applied to summer 2020? Then you can set that aside and go back to your old summer plans. If there is no stated end date, or it’s vague, it’s a good idea to have your ex sign off on a quick written agreement that any “pandemic summer schedule” is now null and void. You can create a 2021 pandemic agreement if one is still needed, or you can simply go back to your pre-pandemic summer schedule.
Restore Lost Parenting Time
If you lost out on parenting time at any point over the past year due to Covid-19 emergency plans, or you just want to see more of your kids after all the stress of this crazy school year, be open with your ex about your desire to restore lost time or even add additional time — perhaps an extra weekend at your home in July and August, or a few extra evenings together throughout the summer.
For example, if you missed out on any holidays and other special times with your kids this past year due to social distancing concerns, consider negotiating with your ex for you to have the kids over the long July 4 weekend (or Labor Day Weekend), even if you don’t normally have the kids for the holiday.
If your parenting time this past year has been radically different due to Covid-19, sit down with your attorney and calculate missed time and create a plan for how to restore it, this summer and beyond. Your attorney can help you draft terms that work everyone.
Work Out a “Social Distancing” Contract for Safe Parenting Time
We’re not out of the woods yet, and one added reassurance that may help ease both of you with returning to your usual normal parenting time schedule is to offer to establish a “social distancing” contract. This can be a simple written document in which you both agree to follow CDC and local guidelines for masks and distancing, and both to agree to follow hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing.
A social distancing contract may also help to ease requests for extra time when you are a parent living in a state with more relaxed guidelines than New Jersey. The contract can provide peace of mind that you both agree how to best keep your child safe.
Important note: This contract should be one that you both freely enter into and feel comfortable with. A social distancing contract should not be used as a threat against withholding parenting time. If your spouse is pressuring you to sign a document (“sign this or you won’t see the kids at all”), please speak with your attorney. This kind of behavior is out of line, and the courts could view the parent as being in contempt.
Good communication is the foundation to every successful relationship, and is important part of a healthy post-divorce relationship. Regular communication with your co-parent minimizes surprises — no matter what the pandemic throws our way next. If talking in person is too stressful, consider using email and a shared online calendar. Whatever you do, don’t ask your child to play the messenger on what’s going to happen over the summer. Children simply don’t need this kind of stress.
Summer vacation is short, but just a few simple steps can make it sweet for all of you!
Have questions about modifying your child custody arrangements due to Covid concerns? Our attorneys are here to help. Please contact us today to schedule your initial confidential consultation. Call 888-888-0919, or please click the button below.