In a split-custody situation, it can be hard to make the most out of your time with your kids. If your ex spouse has an irregular schedule, it can get downright hectic, inviting conflict and confusion.
Spending time with your child should be your top priority, so here are some things to keep in mind to address visitation conflict and make the most of the time you have:
Make sure the visitation agreement is clear.
Confusion about the visitation agreement is going to make everything harder. It not only creates unnecessary conflict and tension, but it can also be a huge time-drain for both parties.
If both parents are busy, then it’s in everyone’s best interest to sort out the visitation agreement. Furthermore, the documentation needs to be watertight in case a conflict arises, and the order is brought up in court again. If the document is ambiguous, and leaves room for one side to massage it in their favor, ask your attorney (link to website) about returning to family court and clarifying details. While it seems like an added hassle — especially right after a divorce case — a clear visitation order will save time down the line, and reduce the possibility of added conflict.
You and your ex-spouse still have lives to lead, so there should be some room for flexibility when the need arises, but the standard terms and visitation times should be clearly stated and followed as much as possible.
Make the most of your time with your child.
Managing a co-parenting schedule can be tough, but don’t let it take away from the time you do have with your child. If you only have your child for the weekends, you can easily fall into the trap of just bringing the child along on your normal weekend errands and excursions, instead of making that time special for the two of you.
You’ll have to make some tough decisions and maybe a few sacrifices, but it might be worth hiring some help to maximize your time. If you have a young child, but you have errands to run, hire a sitter to keep an eye on your child after they’ve gone to bed, then take care of your errands in the evening. If your kids are older and have homework, consider getting a tutor to help them, giving you time to clean, buy groceries, etc. This frees up the “fun time” for you and your child. While money may be tight, these expenditures are a small price to pay for quality time with your child.
In the same vein, recognize your visitation time is just that: your time. At any age, your child is hopefully developing friendships and interests, and while it’s important to foster those, it’s all too easy for the weekend to slip away as you constantly ferry your child from engagement to engagement. Your child’s social and development growth is important, but so is the time they spend with their parents. Know when to say no, and schedule the weekend out in advance with plenty of one-on-one time.
Use technology to your advantage.
Communicating and scheduling with your ex is tough, but here’s the good news: you’re not the first to go through this, and you won’t be the last. There’s a whole cottage industry of tools and apps to keep this from feeling like an extra part-time job. For example, OurFamilyWizard is a website that provides organization and scheduling tools to foster co-parenting, while keeping accurate records on a shared calendar. No more lengthy emails back and forth, or anxiety over time trades, etc. Many of these programs can even help you keep track of expenses with a shared expense log.
It may not seem like much, but these programs can act as an impartial go-between, saving you the tension of sorting out every little detail with your ex. If you have a neutral third-party professional already working with your family, they can create an account as well, monitoring communication and making recommendations. This also provides a handy record-keeping platform, so everything is in writing and readily available in the event of a dispute.
The court offers significant legal benefits and clarity to what can seem like a confusing and frustrating logistical nightmare. You will need a child custody attorney like Swati Desai who understands not only the law but someone that will advocate for you in the courtroom for your child’s best interest.