Good parents provide homes they intend to empty. If you did a good job parenting, your adult children visit but do not stay. Your kids are never too old to be beyond your reach. What about when they’re high schoolers ready to study abroad though? What if that time away from the nest coincides with your parenting time?
The Benefits of Study Abroad
Sending high school students abroad for summer study is a great way to get young Virginians to see past The Shenandoah Mountains or The Outerbanks. Europe, Asia, South America, South Asia, Africa — they all call to adventuresome, youthful spirits.
Nervous parents may worry about sending their children to Spoleto in Italy, or to Paris, France, but high schoolers practice informal diplomacy, hone language skills, and learn about other cultures.
Parenting Time, or the Lack Thereof
Parenting time (child visitation) is almost always worked out through your attorney and your ex-wife’s attorney as part of the divorce decree. Modifications to the schedule can be handled in two ways:
- Informally, between you and your ex-wife
- Formally, through legal petitions to the court granting the divorce
Since students interested in studying abroad for a summer need to plan early, their intentions should not be a surprise to either you or your ex-wife. The earlier you know of their hopes to spend six weeks in Barcelona or Buenos Aires, the easier will be your task of adjusting the parenting time schedule. You will also have more time to make legal changes, not just casual ones.
Writing at HuffPost’s Life blog, Liz Mandarano provides these suggestions:
- Plan a vacation schedule using both attorneys
- Communicate openly
- Take the issue to mediation to smooth the way
- End with a court date
These are neither consecutive or exclusionary. You and your ex-wife must work through numerous channels to carve out time for your “roads scholar” to be away from you both, while still sharing the remaining summer time equitably.
Communicate Openly and Effectively with Your Teenager
Teenagers are notoriously bad at communicating, so keep the dialogue flowing all year between you and your child, between you and your ex-wife, and you and your child’s school. Your child’s passion to spend a summer studying abroad should not come as an unpleasant surprise.
Summer Vacation & Parenting Time
A few schools have adopted year-round schedules, but the vast majority of American high schools shut their doors in June and do not open them again until close to Labor Day.
Summer vacations provide prime employment opportunities for teenagers gaining entry-level experience. They are also good times for additional classwork, touring colleges, or studying abroad.
Most working adults do not have entire summers off, though. The visitation schedule in a divorce usually reflects that reality, so each parent will have a percentage of summer parenting time roughly equal to the percentage of weekends and weekdays the rest of the year. Sometimes the legally mandated schedule is detached from work schedules, including when you, the parent, can take vacation time.
If you have a difficult work schedule, your child’s desire for a summer semester in Sienna may actually be good news to you.
Manage Your Reaction!
Some lucky divorced men can afford to take two or even three weeks off during the summer. If you are one of those men, giving up that precious time so your child can study abroad may be difficult. Nevertheless, whatever grief you feel in giving up your child must be shown and felt away from your child. Do not put guilt on her for wanting to be in Bejing or live in London.
While divorce is centered around you and your ex-wife, your role as a parent is centered around your children. You got the divorce to be happier; allow your child to be happier, too, by enjoying a summer abroad. Wish her well; keep child support coming; stay in touch with her while she is overseas.
Be Compensated for Your Missing Parenting Time
If your child, you and your ex-wife plan carefully, your overseas scholar will know what to expect before, during, and after the overseas trip. You can all agree that she is loved and supported. You can all agree on a plan for splitting the time after the trip so everyone knows how you will compensate for the missing visitation time.
Both parents should listen to their children as much as talk to them. The study abroad experience can have a huge impact and may relieve your child of some post-divorce issues.
All of these plans assume you and your ex-wife can treat each other and the situation like adults. Otherwise, your attorney and hers may need to intervene. Whatever obstacles you and your ex-wife erect, do not let them outweigh your child’s dreams.
Call The Only Firm Representing Men Exclusively
At The Firm For Men, which you reach online or by calling 757-383-9184, we can help provide parenting time schedules, work on child support modifications, and examine your child custody arrangements long after your divorce is final. We are here to help Virginia’s men retain and preserve their rights, including the right to be good Dads.