Helping Your Child Prepare for Summer Visits

Many people notice that there are significant changes in their child’s behavior before and after extended visits with the noncustodial parent. There are set visitation schedules so that children have some structure and understanding of what they are going to do, but it’s a greater benefit to brief your child for an extended amount of time living elsewhere. When a child is used to living in one area and is uprooted to be able to visit with the other parent, things can be incredibly hard for them.

There are many things that you are going to want to do in preparation for your child’s summer away. These are all simple things that can really help your child to feel secure and stable as they are transitioning between the two homes.

Tips to Prepare Your Child for Summer Visits

Help Your Child Get Excited

As much as you might want to keep your children with you forever, the other parent deserves to spend time with them and build a relationship. If you want to help your child to be more emotionally prepared for their summer visit, the best thing that you can do is encourage excitement. Talk to your ex about the things that he/she will be doing with your child and let your child know that fun is planned. Also, talk about all of their favorite activities with the other parent. This is going to really help them extinguish any feelings of nervousness that they might have. While it might be hard for you to watch, you need to be able to understand that this is in their best interest.

Make Something to Help Them Know When They’ll Be Home

You can get as creative as you want. Take the time to make a little something special to help your child know what is going on, and track when they will be back with you. A calendar or a special series of boxes, bags, or cards that they take with them will help them to know when they’ll be home. You may also find that this is a great way to share with your children everything that you love about them and all of the little things that you will miss while they’re gone.

Discuss Options for Communication

You should certainly agree to terms of communication with your ex, before you talk to your child about how you’ll communicate while they are with the other parent. Once you have come to terms with how communication will work, you can talk to your child and let them know the plan. Ask your child what would help them and let them know that you will do your best to be available for regular phone calls, FaceTime, or anything else that they need.

Be Careful with Communication

There are things that you might say that will actually cause your child to have a harder time. If you say things like, “I miss you,” your child might feel like they are the cause of your pain. This could lead them to feeling responsible for your unhappiness when they are not home. You should instead use phrases like, “I love you” and, “I’m thinking about you.” These are all more helpful phrases that you can use to communicate your feelings.

Work with Your Ex on Routines & Activities

Another thing that you should think about is how you can make the transition between homes easier. This will require you to have thorough communication with your ex. You will want to write out and then discuss everything that is normal day-to-day routine for you and your child while they are at your home. Talk about daily activities and things that your children enjoy doing. If your child lives in an area that is far from where they will be spending summers, then help the other parent look for their favorite activities local to them. This can really help your child to make friends and have a great time on their visit.

Teach Your Child that Both Homes are “Home”

When your child feels like one parent’s home is “home” and the other parent’s home is a place to visit, it can cause the child to feel left out and like a stranger in the home where they are visiting. Stress to your child that they have two homes and teach them from the beginning that they are just as welcome at one as they are the other.

 

Being divorced is hard work. Sometimes you have to put aside your personal feelings and really work with your ex to do what is best for your children. You will have to work to find things that you can agree upon for the betterment of your children. Both parents will have to give and compromise in order to make sure that your child lives the best life possible.

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Tips to Get Involved in Your Child’s Activities

Did you know that having a child involved in after school and extra-curricular activities will help them have a boost in their academic performance? Many parents who are not together find it difficult to maintain involvement in their children’s activities. The reason being that when a child is split between two homes, they might not have a stable enough schedule to be able to help their child as much as they need.

When it comes to being involved, both parents need to realize that it is important to work together. They need to create a plan that allows for them to both be involved in activities that are part of the child’s life.

Things to Consider When Getting Involved with Your Child’s Activities

Time Management

Whether you have custody of your child or not, you will need to take steps to make sure that you are managing your time well. You do not want to show up late or miss things that you are supposed to attend with your child. So, make sure that you develop a clear system with your ex so that you can both be involved and that your child has the support that they need with all activities.

Discover New Interests Together

There are so many things that you can discover about yourself and your child through developing new interests together. One of the great things about being involved is that you can find out new interests for yourself too. If your child loves being in a band, you can discover some new music together. If your child loves playing a certain sport, you can spend time watching that sport together or practicing. There are so many things that you can discover by taking the time to enjoy your child’s interests with them and look for new ones.

Contribute Together

You will also find that you can work with your child on developing character. You can do this by contributing to the community together. Volunteer or do something civic together that will inspire others and create important traits in your child such as charity, selflessness, sympathy and compassion. By taking the time to get to know one another and how you can make great changes together, you are teaching your child that they can change the world.

Help Teach Your Child to Set Goals

One of the most valuable gifts that you can give your child is to teach them how to set appropriate goals. When you are involved with your child’s activities, you can help them learn how they are supposed to set goals. Many children try to set goals that are too high for them to accomplish. Work with your child to set reasonable goals that will be achievable for them.

Easy Ways to Maintain Involvement

Start In Court

You can’t maintain your involvement in your child’s activities without first making sure that you have the right to be involved. Many parents do not factor in activities when planning their divorces. Make sure that you talk about what activities you have been active in during your divorce. Try to divide the activities so that your child’s life remains as balanced as it was when you were together.

Keep Schedules Easy to Understand

A key for consistent involvement in your child’s activities is scheduling. Make sure that your schedules are clear and easy to understand. When you do this, it makes it easier not to forget or miss things that you are supposed to be at with your child.

Communicate Changes

Even parents that are together know that one of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to miss one of your child’s activities that you were supposed to attend. That being said, life happens and sometimes things come up that will keep you from attending a child’s activity. When this happens, the first thing you should do is find a family member who can attend in your place. Even if you have to contact your ex, it is in your child’s best interest to have someone there for them.

You will both benefit when you follow through with visits and spending time enjoy your child’s activities with them. Your child gains additional time with both parents doing something enjoyable, while you get to enjoy spending time with your child. Another great benefit to children is knowing that they remain important to both of their parents. Plus, the parents get to enjoy learning something new about their child. There are many other benefits that you too will find as you get more involved in your child’s life.

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How to Prepare for Your First Out of State Trip with Your Child

So, you have your child and you want to go out of state with them for a vacation or to visit family… no problem, right? The answer is both yes and no. You will not have any problems if you take the right steps that will inform your child’s other parent where you will be. However, if you do not take the necessary steps to share your plans with them, then you could potentially face kidnapping charges for crossing state lines.

So How Do You Know What You Have to Do?

Check Your Court Papers

The first thing that you should do is check your court papers. You should look for the provisions for dealing with situations involving travel. Some court papers actually specify what you have to do when traveling out of town. Others simply give guidelines. Yet there are some that do not dictate travel at all. By checking your court papers first, you will be able to ensure that you follow all steps.

Write Your Plan Down

Next, you will find that you need to write your plans down on paper. When you are writing out your plans, you should make sure to take special care to decide all of your details prior to traveling. First, make sure that you have travel dates and times. If you are driving, have a list of your goals and hotels if you are stopping along the way. Also make sure that your lodging information is included in the paperwork.

Talk with Your Ex

While it might be uncomfortable to talk with your ex about your travel plans, it is important that you do so and include all travel information and discuss potential plans. This does not mean that you have to give your ex an extremely detailed itinerary, but let them know that you will be doing appropriate activities and provide information about where you will be staying. Make sure that you are clear with your intentions to have a good time and let them know your dates of travel early on if you have to agree together on the time your child will spend with you.

Get Prepared for Travel

No one wants to have a bad time traveling. Make sure that you are prepared with age-appropriate activities for your child while you are traveling. If you are going to be flying, have things ready for your child to do during the flight. If you are going to be driving, make sure that you have plenty of games and activities available for your child’s entertainment on the road. Take the time to prepare and come up with fun ideas and things that will make the trip easier. This will make your first travel out of town better overall. Plus, it will help increase the likelihood that you will all arrive in a good mood.

Understand Your Child’s Travel Needs

Realize that you are not traveling alone. Understand that children have different needs when traveling than adults do. Also, remember that some children are good about traveling while others are not. This will help alleviate tension and stress which will make it easier as you take your trip.

Traveling for the first time out of state can be smooth and easy. Just make sure that you take the time to do everything that you are supposed to before you are traveling. By following the rules outlined in your child custody agreement and being well prepared, you will be able to enjoy your trip out of town with your child.

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How to Coordinate Extra-Curricular Activities When Your Ex Lives in Another Area

One of the toughest things when your children are growing up in two different households is how the extra-curricular activities will be handled. Children want to be involved in sports and other activities but this will require a commitment from the two parents. You will have to have to work together to be able to ensure that your child gets to do the things that he or she most enjoys.

When at all possible, a child should be kept in the same area as both of his/her parents. However, when it comes to finding a good job or being able to provide and care for the child there are times when parents have to move further apart. If this happens and you find that you are living away from your ex with your child or that your child is living away from you with your ex, there are some things that you should consider.

First and foremost, priority should be placed on what your child wants. Even if your child is not legally able to go to court and determine where they want to live, their opinion on the matter should be taken into account. Children often want to stay where they have friends and where things are familiar. If you cannot find a job where your child has been growing up, this could be particularly hard for them.

Activities vs. Visitation

Of course each parent wants to be a part of their child’s life and wants to be able to spend time with their child. However, at some point what the child wants also needs to be considered. For example, if you live in an area where there are few activities this is especially something to think about. If both areas offer the same activities, then the child could potentially be registered in different areas for different activities. This would allow your child to have maximum time enjoying what they love and being able to spend time with both parents.

Help Choosing Activities

One thing that parents can do is encourage their children to find the activities that they truly love. Most professionals agree that today’s children are often involved in far too many activities. So asking your child to choose between activities can be a good thing. Try to encourage them with the activities that they naturally excel at rather than focusing on trying to do everything. If there are seasonal activities, the child might consider doing some of them with the non-custodial parent when they are visiting them.

Be Flexible with Visitation

Sure, it might be very difficult for the custodial parent when their child is gone to camp and then gone visiting the other parent. However, since they have the child the majority of the time there is no reason for them to struggle with this decision. Both parents need to work together with visitation schedules to help ensure that your child gets those experiences in life that will shape them, while still being able to see the other parent. Children love both of their parents and it does not matter what happened between those two parents when it comes to the child. Parents need to remember this and work hard to prevent themselves from being part of the problem. Being flexible with visitation will help the child to have the best possible experience and a strong relationship with both of their parents.

In the past, it was far too common for custodial parents to just keep kids busy with activities when they didn’t want their child to see their ex. Instead of fighting, many noncustodial parents chose to not see their children. This ended with these kids lacking in the relationships because they wanted to see their other parents. One of the best things that you can do for your children is to make sure that you work together for a visitation arrangement and extra-curricular activities schedule that will benefit the child. Sometimes you might have to give up something with your child that you think is unfair but doing this will help you to have the best possible relationship with them as they become adults. Your child is not going to remember the things that your ex did to you but they will remember the things that they lost or were put in the middle of.

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What Should You Do if Your Ex is Not Following the Parenting Plan?

One of the most frustrating experiences for any divorced or separated parent is to find themselves in a situation where the other parent is not following through with the parenting plan that has been set in place.  Co-parenting is hard work and when one parent decides to do something that breaks the bonds between the child and the other parent or chooses to do things that are not part of the plan, then it not only hurts the other parent but it also hurts the child.  When a father has been granted limited time with the child and the mother is refusing to cooperate as she is supposed to, it can be very frustrating for any father. Unfortunately some parents don’t understand that custody is not about winning or losing, it’s about what’s in the best interest of the child. Keeping the children away from the other parent hurts the kids more than anything. During these situations,  remembering to keep your cool and to not react in a way that that could be determined to be violent or aggressive is the first place that you should start.

 

Understanding Contempt

The first thing that you have to realize if your ex is not following the parenting plan is that the police are not going to gt involved with this matter.  The matter is completely civil and not criminal so you are not going to be getting help from law enforcement for the matter.  There are actually forms that you can look up online if you do not have the money to hire an attorney.

When you represent yourself you have to act and think like a lawyer and remove all emotion from the interactions.  There are no legal ways that your ex needs to make you feel and there is nothing that is “fair” or “right” as those are all judgments.  However, that does not mean that it is impossible for you to do this.  You just have to keep your head on straight and know what you are going to be talking about with the judge.  Reflect all answers to how it is hurting your child for this to go on.  Look at the court documents and use similar language when speaking  to the judge and try to answer any questions with the least amount of words possible. It’s advisable to notate dates, times and specific circumstances that your Ex is violating a parenting plan so you have the proper facts when filing for contempt with the court.

 

Hiring an Attorney

 Hiring an attorney is what most people decide to do because tackling your own legal problems in court can be so tough.  If you are worried about how you can afford a lawyer there should be a family law coordinator in the courthouse.  You can go talk to this individual and get all of the information that you need to find affordable family legal representation.  This person can also help you to understand how to move forward and if you have a case against your ex.  In most cases you are going to have to prove malicious intent on the part of your ex for them to get into trouble.  Depending on the county in which you live, this is something that might be drastically different.  For instance in some counties your ex could be fined or jailed but in others they are basically going to get told not to do it again.  Knowing the area in which you live is going to best be able to help you understand what you should do.  You can ask for your ex to be responsible for your legal fees since they brought on the situation that required you to hire legal representation.  In some cases a judge might award you these fees but in others it might not work out.   If a judge feels that you have more money than your ex or feels as though you are both being petty then it is not something that they are going to do.

 

Hiring a Family Advocacy Group

If you are not in the financial position to hire an attorney, you can always get a free consultation with National Family Solutions. There are qualifying representative that go over your situation and see if it’s a case that they can help with. These types of programs are set up to help families that need help going through a family law proceeding but can’t pay the high cost of retainer fees. A Case Manager will be assigned to you to help you do some of the leg work yourself. For example, you will file and have a third party serve the documents so you don’t have to pay an attorney or law firm to do these two steps. This option works for many parents that need to file custody for the first time, modify a previous custody order or even file for contempt because the other party is not following a parenting plan or court order.

 

 

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