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Prepare now to avoid summer break custody issues

It won't be long before the Louisiana school year ends and your children will have several months of free time. Undoubtedly, they have many plans for their time off. Your teens may be looking for part-time work, and your younger children may be anticipating more time for friends and outdoor activities.

Perhaps this is your first summer since your divorce, or maybe you recall the chaos of custody issues over the winter holidays. In either case, adapting your custody arrangements to a new summer schedule can be intimidating, but it does not have to be an impossible task.

Working together for the child's best interests

No matter how cordial you and your spouse were after the divorce, custody issues may continue to raise disputes between you. Whether you negotiated your custody agreement or accepted one from the court, summer break can complicate matters. In addition to the possibility that you will need extra daycare, more meal prep and activities to keep your young ones occupied, you may have to adjust your custody plan for vacations, camps, family reunions and spur-of-the-moment activities.

To keep your sanity, family advocates recommend the following strategies:

  • Respect your ex's parenting time by not planning activities during those days.
  • Consult with your ex about any plans to go away for vacations.
  • Consult with your ex before committing your child to any activity, such as summer camp, that may overlap your ex's custody time.
  • Bring your ex into discussions about important summer plans, such as your teen getting a job or a child going on vacation with a friend's family.
  • Don't be afraid to say no when your child tries to cram too many or too costly activities into the summer.

While you do not want to be the bad guy and reject your child's plans for activities, you also don't want to risk losing precious time with your children over the summer by over-scheduling them. However, you will want to make sure your ex is on the same page so you do not have your child playing one against the other.

Ideally, your ex will see the benefit in such cooperation so that neither of you has to seek legal intervention for a custody dispute. With a little foresight and a lot of flexibility, you may find yourself looking forward to summers from now on.

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