"One of the main points is if you have the kids when the storm hits, do not use the winter weather conditions as an excuse to extend custody time with them. As much as you would like to spend as much time with them as possible, it’s not beneficial to the long-term health of your custody case."
With winter in full swing, it can be a stressful time commuting to where you need to go. The roads are not always cleared from the snow and ice, and many drivers are unprepared and ill-equipped to handle the conditions. This can be especially challenging when it comes to exchanging custody of children for visitation with another parent.
Visitation schedules can be a challenging aspect of one’s life to navigate, especially if you are the one doing the visiting or you do not necessarily have the best relationship with your co-parent. Egos, feelings, past history, personal faults, and miscommunication can all be dragged through the mud while establishing a schedule that works for the parents and none of that includes the schedules of the children, which need to be accounted for, as well.
Factoring in the winter weather and road conditions, making visitation schedules work during winter months can be a stressful endeavor, but not an impossible one, if you are prepared.
Knowing the terms
One of the biggest ways of being prepared is monitoring the weather ahead of time, so that none of the issues that you face in your travels are a surprise to you. When you’re monitoring a storm, it’s important to know the difference between the warnings. According to the Red Cross, a winter storm outlook means that winter storm conditions are possible for the next two to five days.
Winter weather advisory means that winter weather conditions are expected to cause major inconveniences and could be hazardous. However, these conditions are not considered life-threatening.
A winter storm watch is for when winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours, forcing people to review their plans. A winter storm warning is life-threatening with severe winter conditions occurring or set to occur within the next 24 hours, forcing people to take immediate precautions.
Preparing your car
The Red Cross has several tips for how to prepare your car in the event of extreme winter weather, including keeping the gas tank fuel to prevent the fuel line from freezing. Keep an ice scraper and brush in your car, in an effort to keep your windows clear, and consider investing in a frost guard, that is placed on your front windshield, preventing your front windshield from frosting up before it even begins.
Keeping your car well-maintained with its heating and defrosting features also will help keep you and your children warm in the car. In dire conditions, putting together a supply kit of food, water, flashlights, and first aid can be beneficial if you know the situation is going to be bad.
Knowing as much about the conditions of the roads being traveled also involves learning about how the cities and towns treat their roads during winter storms. Some municipalities are better at preparing for the conditions than others. Make sure to stay on main roads and avoid short cuts that might include roads that are less of a priority to the cities and towns being traveled through.
Some salt the roads more frequently or employ more plows than other cities or towns, but knowing how they typically react can help determine what roads you take and how quickly you will arrive to the visitation custody exchange.
Make sure to keep your cell phone charged and have it ready at a moment’s notice. You need to be able to communicate to your co-parent what your estimated time of arrival is, in order to avoid any conflict. Making the other parent understand that the safety of the children is your first and foremost priority may be difficult, but it’s important to try. Establishing that level of trust between co-parents in adverse conditions can only benefit the children in the long-run.
Additionally, snow days can provide a challenge, given how it impacts the schedule of the children. Many couples find that flexibility is key to navigating the nuances of the situation. One of the main points is if you have the kids when the storm hits, do not use the winter weather conditions as an excuse to extend custody time with them. As much as you would like to spend as much time with them as possible, it’s not beneficial to the long-term health of your custody case.
If you’re scheduled to work the day of a snow day and you have an inkling of the snow day ahead of time, you need to communicate who will watch the kids ahead of time, so that everyone is on the same page in this situation.
Sorting through the awkwardness that could occur in the situation is part of visitation as a whole, but in extreme circumstances, it’s important to cooperate and communicate with one another during the difficulties that winter weather provides.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.