Travelling with your children post-separation requires some thinking and planning to avoid some common pitfalls.
It’s not uncommon for parents to notice behaviour differences in their children when they return from a trip with their other parent. This can be extremely frustrating and potentially destructive to both your child(ren) and your co-parenting relationship.
Nathalie Boutet, Family Law Lawyer and Accredited Mediator offers the following tips of advice for maintaining a smooth co-parenting relationship while traveling:
Advance notice of the trip:
Give your proposed travel plans to your former spouse well in advance of the trip. This includes the dates of travel, the mode of transportation, including flight or train itinerary and details, the address and phone number where you will be staying and how to reach the children during the trip. Supply all of the information that YOU would want to know if it was the other spouse who was travelling with your children.
Communication during the trip:
Agree in advance with your former spouse about the types and frequency of contacts with the children during the trip. This is not meant to burden the travelling parent with all sorts of obligations to keep in touch in a disruptive manner. This is to devise a plan of communication that works for all involved. Think of the ages and stages of development of the children as well. If the children are older and can communicate through their own means such as their own cellular phone, there is less of a need to organize communication with the non-travelling parent. But if the children are younger and will likely miss the non-travelling parent, it is best to agree in advance on when and how there will be communication so all involved can have some peace of mind. For example, if the travel is to a cottage or remote location where telephone and internet access is sketchy, advance planning and agreement is required to ensure the non-travelling parent is not left without communications about the children during the trip.
Co-parenting after separation is sometimes hard and parents miss their children when they are with the other parent. It is easy for parents to confuse their own loneliness and need for contact with their children versus the children’s needs to be in touch with the non-travelling parent. In several circumstances, it good for children to have the time and space to be alone with each of their parents and to develop a new kind of relationship after separation. When children are able to function independently with each parent, the non-travelling parent could try to allow the trip without burdening the situation too much with all kinds of demands to be in touch which may be aimed at satisfying the non-travelling parent’s own emotional needs rather than the needs of the children.