School snow days present scheduling issues for working parents. Bad weather can cause schools to cancel or close early; buses stop running, and parents scramble for solutions. In some areas, schools can be closed for several days. For divorced parents with child custody agreements, it may be even more challenging. If the parents are not on good terms, this can lead to a lot of unpleasantries.
In New Jersey, child custody orders specify where the children live, including how much time is spent at both residences and terms for custody exchanges.
However, it may not be possible to enforce them in unforeseen circumstances, like an ice storm. If the parents depend on a school bus to transport their child from one parent’s house to the other’s, they may need to act when school is canceled.
Divorce Decrees and Custody Orders
These judgment orders specify how the parents share their children’s custody. For example, a child can live at home with the mother during the week and stay with the father on weekends. Exceptions for summers, holidays, and pre-set days off from school should be incorporated into these. Most, however, do not make provisions for snow days, and parents can end up arguing, with the children’s needs falling by the wayside.
Snow days can also lead to flight cancellations and poor road conditions that can affect parenting time. For example, a mom has scheduled a weekend drive to the grandparents, but an unexpected snowstorm arrives. The child is at the dad’s, but the roads are closed, and he cannot transport the child to the mom for the trip. The mom is at risk for losing this valuable time with the child.
Peaceful Parenting Resolutions
It is always best not to put the children in the middle of a custody issue. School snow days are part of life in New Jersey.
Safety is the main priority; if the roads are bad, the children should stay put. The parents should stick to custody rules closely, but there is no long-term benefit from trying to get additional time on a snow day. If the parent must work, they should take a vacation day, work from home, or get a trusted sitter.
The parents should put their differences aside, and negotiate the lost parenting time. Maybe the dad can give up one holiday in exchange for the extra time he gained on the snow day. In this way, the court would not have to become involved in a custody dispute. Agreeing on a modification, in writing, to the custody agreement for a snow day is best for the children, as well as their parents.
If parents cannot agree, they can engage a mediator to resolve the dispute. They can also go to NJ Family Court and file a petition for adjudication. In these cases, a judge will consider what is best for the children, and might modify the visitation schedule.
This can also impact child support payments. If the judge determines that one parent did not respond suitably to a weather concern, the court might hold them in contempt.
Not all divorces are amicable, and these can lead to numerous child custody issues. Contact an experienced South Jersey child custody lawyer to put your family first. Call us at (856) 512-1461 or contact us online for a free consultation. Our offices are in Marlton and Somers Point, New Jersey, from which we serve families in South Jersey, Camden County, Burlington County, and Atlantic County.