In a perfect world, Spring Break will be decided, along with all other holidays and vacations, well before the actual dates arrive. That way everyone knows where they are supposed to be.
Here are the basic rules regarding shared custody:
- The children’s health, safety, and welfare must be protected.
- The arrangement must be in the children’s “best interest.”
- The custody order must assure the children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents.
- The “custodial timeshare” needs to be fixed and predictable.
In simple terms, there needs to be a plan that focuses on what is best for the children. It needs to be fixed and predictable so you, your ex, and the children know where to be and when to be there. The reason for this approach, which feels very rigid at first, is to diffuse the power struggle that exists in nearly every divorcing family.
Children as young as three years old have some idea of time and respond well to a schedule. Children do well when they know they can count on Mom and Dad to show up when they need them to. They do well when they know whether Mom or Dad will be dropping them off at swimming that day.
It is not a perfect system, but in my opinion, we are way better off than when I first started practicing family law. In those days, back when I was wearing shoulder pads and pantyhose, the law guaranteed a contest, if not a full legal battle as the court had to decide which parent was “fit” and which parent was “unfit.” The children were not the focal point of that contest, the parents were.
So assuming it’s your year to spend Spring Break with your children, please enjoy them and your trip to Disneyland.