The summer of 2020 is a summer like no other, and with so many cancellations, travel restrictions and continued concerns about COVID-19, your summer parenting time plans with your kids may look very different this year.
Are you missing out on time with your kids, including July 4th plans? Try these ideas for restoring lost parenting time.
Ask your ex for added time
Sometimes, what appears to be the simplest solution actually is. If you lost out on parenting time during the spring due to COVID-19 emergency plans, or you just want to see more of your kids after all the stress of the past few months, be open with your ex about your desire for restored or added time — perhaps an extra weekend at your home in July and August, or a few extra evenings together throughout the summer.
You may be surprised to learn that your ex welcomes you having more parenting time, due to their own need to get back to work or because they really need a breather after months of homeschooling.
When asking, always be respectful and civil with your ex, and be prepared to negotiate. If you and your ex are not on good terms, you can pass the request and suggested plan through your attorney to their attorney.
Have an even happier 4th of July
If you missed out on Easter or Passover earlier in the spring due to lockdown, 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.
You can also look for other special events and days this summer to make up lost parenting time from the spring, go on a weeklong “staycation,” or simply work in an extra day each week over the summer. If your parenting time this past spring was radically different due to COVID-19, sit down with your attorney and calculate missed time and create a plan for how to restore it. Your attorney can help you draft terms that work everyone.
Work out a mutual “Social Distancing” Contract for safe parenting time
One added reassurance that may help ease the mind of the other parent in being more flexible with parenting time 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 that both of you and your child will a wear mask as appropriate when you go to the store or other enclosed public spaces and whenever social distancing is not possible, and that you both to agree to follow hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing. You may also wish to agree to limited exposure to those outside a “family bubble” (which can include the parents’ partners and others).
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.
Get More Virtual Time
When all else fails, look to technology this summer. One silver lining to COVID-19 has been the explosion in opportunities to connect with others online. You and your child can play online games together, watch a Netflix movie together in an interactive format (look for the Netflix plugin for this feature), and even sign up for parent & child group exercise or cooking classes.
Or you can keep it simple! Spending just a few minutes before your children go to bed on Facetime or on Skype can mean the all the difference to them if they are missing you and vice versa. While technology is no substitute for physically being with your kids, it is a good alternative for when logistics just won’t work for in-person time.
Get it in writing
If you are able to work out a change to your parenting plan for the summer, make sure you get the changes in writing. For example, write up the changed plan and then both of you sign it, preferably after your lawyer has looked it over. Getting a plan in writing is important if you’re separated, but not yet divorced.
Even it’s just a small change, make sure to save your communications about the change (i.e., a text from your ex that says, “Sure – you can take Abby and Jake to beach on Saturday.”)
Summer is short and even with COVID-19 concerns still here, it can still be a special summer to remember with your kids.
Need help coming up with workable solutions for parenting time over summer vacation? We can help. Start safeguarding your future with your kids today by coming in for an attorney consultation. Gets answers to all your questions and get a clear strategy for moving forward. Call us at 888-888-0919, or please click the green button below.