Most courts, including those in Missouri, encourage joint physical custody after a couple divorces. This means that, barring exceptions, they prefer couples share physical custody of their children, with both parents spending significant amounts of time with the kids. This helps foster a loving relationship between each parent and child. However, for this to be successful, both parents must be living relatively close to one another, and this is not always the case. When parents live on opposite sides of the country, the court must come up with other custody and visitation orders.
Since summer is always a long break for children, most parents are ordered to share some form of visitation schedule over the summer, and that may require the child to spend most, if not all, of their vacation with the other parent. When they return to their custodial homes, they may be depressed, confused and even stressed out. But custodial parents can take a few steps to ease the transition.
Most important is to make the child feel welcome once he or she is back, and to reinforce how happy one is that the child had the opportunity to spend time with the other parent. In addition to this, encourage the child to maintain the good relations that have developed during the trip and seriously consider revising the visitation schedule if the child expresses an earnest desire for it. As the custodial parent listens to the narrative of the summer, it is important not to display any feelings of missing out or jealousy that could result in the children feeling torn or guilty for enjoying the summer with the ex.
Child custody and visitation schedules are tricky matters in family law, with no one solution fitting everyone. Given everyone's circumstances, it is often beneficial to create a custody agreement between the couple, without involving the court. This way, each parent can ensure the most utilization of his or her time. An experienced attorney may be able to help with that.