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Child Custody & Parenting Plans

Post-Divorce Tips for a Low-Stress Summer

When you signed your co-parenting agreement, you hadn't really had time to think about summer. Now that it's almost here, how things will work out regarding vacations, unplanned visits and other issues might concern you. As it has been since you first decided to divorce, your main priority is keeping your children's best interests in mind.  

You do have a new, independent lifestyle, however, and you feel very strongly about making sure your former spouse respects that. You can take comfort in knowing that other California parents have trod the path before you. No two situations are the same, but if you talk to other divorced parents, you're sure to find some who can relate to how you're feeling. It's also a good idea to keep legal resource information on hand, in case a problem arises.  

What does your court order say? 

The bottom line is that you and your ex must adhere to the terms of your court order. Perhaps you agreed to trade summers, with your kids spending one season with you and the next with their other parent. You can customize your plans, but if the terms are written in the court order, you can't change them without the court's approval.  

If your ex refuses to follow the rules, you can take immediate action to rectify the situation. This might necessitate a return trip to court, but it would definitely show that you have no intention of allowing someone to undermine your parental rights. Besides, the court doesn't look fondly upon contempt.  

Discuss finances ahead of time 

You may have child support all worked out, but summertime often prompts out-of-the-ordinary expenditures, such as Day Camp, sports clinics or vacations. It's critical that you and your ex decide who will pay for such things, especially if it's not already written in your co-parenting plan.  

If your children are older, seek their opinions 

Sometimes, you can avoid discord by asking your kids to share their preferences. If your children are toddlers, this may not be practical; however, older kids may tell you they'd rather be one place more than another or would like to spend money on this or that, which may help you and their other parent avoid disagreements. 

Summer plans needn't be final  

It may help keep stress levels low if you agree to be flexible. Children who witness their parents working toward a common goal for their best interests may cope better in divorce. Consequently, if they constantly hear you arguing about them, they may get quite stressed, and neither you or they will be in the mood to celebrate summer. By cooperating and compromising, you can negotiate plans and overcome obstacles as they arise. 

There's a difference between accidentally double-scheduling the kids on a certain day and having to fight for your right to spend time with them. If your summer fun comes to a halt because of post-divorce legal problems, you can take advantage of family law resources in your area to obtain help in getting things back on track.