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Why co-parents should start planning for summer vacation now

We know it's spring break time, but it's never too early for separated and divorced parents to start planning for summer break. It's best to determine if and how the custody and visitation will change sooner rather than later in order.

Planning ahead with your ex is necessary for many reasons. For example:

-- If you're a working parent, you need to request vacation time and arrange for someone to look after the kids while you're working or find a safe, fun place for them to spend their time, like a day camp.

-- If you're taking the kids on vacation, make sure that you're not planning the same trip as your ex (unless it's a favorite spot that your kids are more than happy to visit twice.) If you're planning to take your kids out-of-state or to another country, be sure you're not violating your custody agreement.

As with all co-parenting decisions, the best interests of the kids should be paramount. If they're old enough, include them in the planning. If the relationship between you and your ex is a combative one, it's often best for the kids if they aren't shuffled back and forth too much between your households during the summer. However, for younger kids, it's usually best for them to spend equal amounts of time with both parents.

During the summer, communication and scheduling are often even more crucial than during the school year, because kids are out of their routine. There are apps like OurFamilyWizard that help co-parents ensure that both have the same information about visiting times, exchanges, vacations, doctor's appointments, sports events, recitals and other activities. If the kids are old enough to have access to the schedule, it can help them feel like their parents have everything under control.

Often, family law attorneys recommend that divorcing parents include some kind of stipulation about summer vacation in their custody and visitation plans. However, this may be something broad like how many weeks of their vacation the kids will spend with each parent.

If you and your co-parent are having problems working out the details of summer break or your spouse isn't living up to his or her end of the bargain, you may want to talk with your attorney about adding details to or amending your agreement. This can help make future summers less stressful for everyone.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Divorce and Summer Break," accessed March 24, 2016

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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