Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Divorced Parents – Make a Plan For Snow Days

Your children are wearing their pajamas inside out and backwards, the white crayon is in the freezer, the spoon is under their pillow, ice cubes have been flushed down the toilet and thrown in a tree…the children sit, with anticipation for the snow to start to fall, and hope their superstitious preparations work. As a single divorced parent you sit and wonder if school will be closed or the opening delayed and how that will impact your workday.

For many New Jersey divorced parents, snow days are usually a struggle. Over the past two weeks I have been talking with clients regarding how they weathered Hurricane Sandy and kept in contact with their co-parent. Those that were most successful had a very clear plan in place to deal with emergencies, they remained calm, and were reasonable when communication lines were down and roads impassable. These types of plans are not part of your child custody arrangements but rather fall into your parenting time agreements.

The lesson learned from Sandy is that you can never be too prepared. Since we have already had one significant snowstorm here in NJ, When you hear of an impending storm, you and your co-parent should communicate about how to handle a delayed opening or school closing. Several factors can be considered:

  • Can either parent work from home either for the full-day or a few hours?
  • If the roads are safe, can the parents split the day?
  • Are the children old enough to spend time by themselves?
  • Is there a neighbor who can babysit for a few hours?
  • Can you call a friend for a favor to help out?
  • Going forward, how can you alternate days off so one parent doesn’t use precious vacation and personal time. How do you want to make-up parenting time and work that was missed?

  • Ultimately, the care of the children has to be the responsibility of the parent on duty the morning that the snow emergency arises. Both parents should make every effort to communicate plans and work together. The most important thing is the care and safe keeping of your children. Even though it might not be your parenting time, if your boss is more flexible and allows telecommuting, then offer for the kids to spend the day with you. I always stress to my clients the importance of working through these issues as amicably as possible. It is in the best interest of your sanity and your children.

    The detailed level of your plans is based on what you are comfortable with and how you and your co-parent communicate and generally get-along with one another. Given recent events you may be thinking that you want a firm plan in place. You may want an airtight agreement that covers most imaginable emergency. You may only need a general plan to cover basics. Regardless of your needs and circumstances, if you require any assistance developing plans and unique solutions, please feel free to give our office a call. We have helped many clients settle their parenting time arrangements.