Does your summer custody arrangement need tweaked?

With Memorial Day just around the corner, it's time to once again review your summer child custody plans. For some families, these transitions can be a little difficult to get used to. But with some patience and a little advance planning, everyone can get on board.

Ideally, your parenting plan should cover most contingencies that you, your kids and your ex may encounter. But even the most comprehensive parenting plans can't cover all potential conflicts that may arise, which is why successful co-parenting requires good communication.

Communication is key

Suppose that you make plans to take the kids to the East Coast this summer to visit the nation's capital. You make the airline and hotel reservations and arrange for a car rental in D.C. You and the kids are excited about the upcoming trip.

You mention the trip to your ex. It turns out that the dates fall on the weekend of a family wedding the kids will be attending with your ex. In fact, your son is slated to be the ring bearer and your daughter the flower girl. With the clarity only hindsight can bring, you realize poor communication led to this SNAFU.

Be flexible and open to compromise

Co-parents need to be willing to accommodate one another's plans on occasion when there are conflicts. Your ex might have to attend an out-of-town work conference during the time he or she is slated to have the kids over the summer. You might need to renegotiate the schedule to work around these inevitable conflicts. Keep in mind that while this time it's your ex who needs the favor, next time it may be you.

While scheduling conflicts can pop up out of the blue, many can be avoided by discussing plans and obligations as far in advance as possible. Hold off on making reservations for trips until you have cleared the dates with your former spouse.

Kids have their own obligations

Older kids may have their own plans and obligations to take into account when making summer plans. Many participate in team sports with daily practices and weekly games. Teens may have summer job work schedules to accommodate.

When the situation is untenable

If you reach an impasse with your ex and neither is willing to budge, it may be time to formally modify your child custody arrangement.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Summer Child Custody Plans," accessed May 18, 2018

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