They get to spend 9 glorious weeks at the
summer sleepaway camp that I grew up at.
A place that has always been my second home and my safe place to
land. I started going right after my own
parent’s divorce and continued well into adulthood as staff. When I could no longer take summers off I
still made sure to visit and attend alumni functions every chance I got. My camp family was always in touch.
Shortly after my own divorce I returned for an
entirely different kind of summer, with my twin 3 year olds in tow.
I was able to give my babies a safe place to
land as well. And we thrived!
And we continue to thrive. Summers away give kids a chance to explore
and challenge themselves in the best way possible. We unplug from the world, we unplug from our
devices, we unplug from so many of our daily stresses.
It also turns our parenting schedule entirely
upside down. My ex only sees them one
day a week for the whole summer. I get
to be with them every night but on my only day off each week, I am bringing
them back home to visit her. We all give
up something. And it’s not without
difficulty, but it brings so much reward.
This summer our babies grew in leaps and
bounds. They went on hikes, they learned
to swim almost entirely without their puddlejumpers. They navigated new friendships and being
reunited with old friends. They learned
to handle crowded dining rooms and social scenes they don’t get to encounter at
home. They went to a water park and the
movies, learned songs and dances. They
spent the summer being kids and came home ready for kindergarten.
They have no idea what this means for them yet,
what seeds we planted. But one day they
will be so glad we didn’t spend the summer fighting over who gets to have the
kids when and instead gave the summer to them.
It’s not my time or my exes time.
It’s their time. And they loved
We didn’t agree on a lot of things when we were married. We had a lot of feelings clouding our judgement. There was a lot of stress distracting us from prioritizing. After our divorce was finalized and everything was written in ink and signed off on, it all got easier.
It wasn’t quite overnight, but over time we grew closer and more capable of healthy communication when it comes to our kids. We had been on the same page before we got married and now we are back on the same page. We just needed to get rid of some of the other aspects of our relationship to become the parents we were meant to be.
So while some minor details aren’t always agreed on, we seem to always find a good place to land when it comes to the big issues. Like our children’s wellbeing, mental health, and meeting their individual needs.
Our daughter comes with a whole host of needs. Not all of which made sense to us at first. And not all of which came with any sort of “how to” guide. Allowing our child to transition was the simplest and hardest thing to come to terms with. We both knew who she was and who she needed to be allowed to be. We both were terrified of messing this up. We consulted wit ha specialist. We met with other families, some in real life, some virtually. We took it slowly and followed her lead.
Most recently, we signed documents and mailed out a check. We finally gave our girl what she needed in order to be able to live her life. A child shouldn’t have to come with an explanation or a “heads up” before starting a new class. A child shouldn’t always have to enter a new arena by waiting on the outskirts while their parents explained to the adults in charge what to expect. And now, she won’t have to.
I showed up to the play date with one kid. My friend was shocked. Where was my other kid? I guess the concept of having a split day isn’t something people are too familiar with. Many parents take one kid out for a special activity. Many kids go out with their friends or family without necessarily taking their sibling along. But once you start breaking down their schedules into parenting time, people tend to be far more hungry for that time.
Early on in the divorce process I worried about losing time with my kids. I worried about missing out on huge memories and all of their little milestones. I worried about all of it. As the kids got older though, I noticed that there were a lot of things we were all missing out on. A little one on one time started to become something to look forward to.
Our kids are their own people. They have their own hobbies, interests, all of it. And they have an amazing ability to interrupt each other and a strong desire to steer conversations and play in their own direction. It became apparent that they needed one on one time.
The split day was born. It was such a raging success from the very first one that we knew we had to work this into our parenting schedule. It made it so much more clear too that this wasn’t about my days or about my exes days. All of this is about the kids days.
Birthday parties are much easier to navigate without an extra sibling. Bringing a 4 year old on a 4 hour hike is surprisingly doable when it’s one 4 year old instead of 2. A trip to the museum became a truly interactive learning event rather than a push-me pull-me down a spiral of exhaustion. The kids missed each other and were happy to be reunited at the end of the day. They were eager to share their experiences. They were thrilled to have had one of us to themselves. So yeah, split days are a thing. And we like them.
On October 3, 2018, the New Jersey Appellate Courts rendered an unreported decision on a case about emancipating a child with disabilities. (S.E. v. B.S.B. (A-0485-17T2))
According to New Jersey statutory law, a parent’s continuing obligation to provide child support presumptively ends when the child turns 19 years old, unless a different date is ordered by the Court. However, even if a different date is ordered, the support cannot continue beyond the child’s 23rd birthday (except under exceptional circumstances).
In S.E. v. B.S.B., the child receiving support was 23 years old, born with cerebral palsy, and diagnosed Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The child’s mother filed a motion with the trial court for an order compelling the child’s father to continue providing support even though the child had reached the statutory maximum age. The child had graduated high school, was working towards earning an Associate’s Degree, and had applied to numerous jobs (without success). The child’s mother advised the Court that she had obtained social security disability benefits for the child and that he was also utilizing services available through social service agencies. The Court noted that the child’s father’s testimony was limited, because he basically never had any meaningful contact with his child.
The trial Court terminated the father’s child support obligation. The trial court opined that the mother did not provide any current medical evidence that indicated that the child’s cerebral palsy was so severe that the child required a parent to provide financial support beyond the age of 23. The trial court also remarked that the child was able to attend physical therapy on his own, was able to work, and could be self-sufficient.
The child’s mother appealed. The Appellate Court agreed with the Trial Court’s findings, summarizing their thoughts by citing 2 governing statutes (N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.67(e), and N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(a)). The Appellate Court stated that when the 2 statutes are read together, they mean that “if an adult child suffers from a disability but is self-sufficient, he is generally considered emancipated beyond the sphere of a parent’s legal, if not moral, obligation.” (citing Kruvant v. Kruvant, 100 N.J. SUPER. 107, 119 (App. Div. 1968). The Appellate Court commented that the record showed that the child was independent in most of his daily living activities. The Appellate Court summed up its decision by stating that the mother in this case bore the burden of rebutting the presumption of her child’s emancipation as a matter of law, and that even though her concerns for her child’s future well-being and financial security were genuine, she had not overcome the presumptive emancipation in accordance with the 2 governing statutes.