Children are always affected when their parents make the decision to get a divorce. Not only do parents have to figure out how to divide marital property, but they must also figure out who gets to spend time with the kids and when. Child custody arrangements are an essential component of a divorce. North Carolina prefers parents to share joint physical and legal custody of their kids. This helps to encourage family unity and limit the negative effects of the divorce on the children. When joint custody is awarded, parents have the responsibility of drawing up a parenting plan.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A child custody parenting plan essentially outlines where children will be spending their time and with whom. Parents tend to make sure that the major components of a child's life are mapped out in a parenting plan. For example, plans tend to dictate where children will live during the school year, which parent they'll spend major holidays with, and what summer vacations will look like. In many cases, however, parents fail to plan for things like spring vacation. With spring break just around the corner, it is important to make sure that your parenting plan includes details about your children's spring breaks.
How to Plan for Spring Break
Spring break generally falls around the celebration of Easter in either March or April. This is a time when kids are out of school for 7 to 10 days. When negotiating the terms of a parenting plan, many parents remember to include Easter but forget about spring break. Spring break is a time when kids have the freedom to travel, decompress, and enjoy their life outside of school. As a result, spring break is a great opportunity for quality family time. Parents who are putting together a parenting plan should discuss their goals and wishes for spring break.
Option One: Alternate custody for spring break vacations.
Some parents may not want to give up a holiday or vacation in its entirety. Since you have the freedom to design a parenting plan that fits your goals and needs, you have the option of asking your child's other parent to alternate holidays. This year, your spouse gets custody of the kids for spring break. In return, you get to spend Thanksgiving in the company of your children. Next year, however, you get the kids for spring break and your spouse gets to enjoy Thanksgiving with them. This can be a great way to spread out the memories that are associated with different holidays and experiences.
Option Two: Dedicated holidays.
If spending spring break with your kids is very important, you may be able to convince the other parent spouse to allow you to be with your kids every year. However, if you choose this route, you will likely have to give up a different vacation or holiday. In other words, this requires give and take. You may get spring break, but the other parent may get all of Christmas break. You'll have to figure out what you want, what works best for your kids, and what allows both parents to spend an equitable amount of time with your children.
Create Flexible Parenting Plans
Whatever you decide, it is important to be open about your goals and strive to create a flexible parenting plan. Talk about potential trips and taking your kids out of state. Discuss how plans may change as your children get older and make plans for themselves. When creating a parenting plan for spring break, be aware that plans and circumstances can change. Think about inserting contingency plans and being flexible when your child's other parent needs you to be. Put any agreements in writing so that disputes don't arise in the future.
Do you need help structuring a parenting plan that works for you and your family? Did you forget to discuss spring break or another holiday in your original plan? Contact the North Carolina family law attorneys at Caulder & Valentine for help. We understand that spending time with your children is precious and fleeting. We will help you create and negotiate terms for a parenting plan that are best for you. Call Caulder & Valentine today to request a consultation and learn more.