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Summer can pose special shared custody challenges

School's out for summer. All the routines that families in Little Rock have gotten into for the past nine months are likely now in total disarray. Even if they're not, there are still probably speed bumps in the road that weren't there a little while ago.

This can be a tough time for families. It can be especially difficult for divorced parent in an arrangement involving shared child custody, and even more of a challenge for couples who were never married but who are committed to fulfilling their shared parental responsibilities. Working out schedules so that children get quality time with both parents while taking into account summer free time can be a real tension creator. What can you do?

It's wise to be mindful of the difficulties this time of year can present and to avoid issues by thinking ahead. Those with experience in this area will likely agree that there are some tried and true tips that adults can try to follow to avoid the friction that can add more heat to summer than anyone wants. These might include the following:

  • Remain schedule flexible on visitation. A regimented schedule that worked during the structured school year isn't likely to be as easy to follow during the summer. In addition, consider that as the children get older, every summer's activities are likely to evolve. Trips to a family cabin for a week might be replaced with trips across country.

  • Plan and share the plans with your ex well ahead of time. Spur of the moment trips may be fun and part of what used to be your family's practice when you were together. It doesn't work well when court orders have established set parenting times. To avoid disruption, make clear plans well in advance and share them. Any proposed change is more likely to win acceptance that way. If nothing else, it leaves room for adjustments if necessary.

  • Work directly with your ex. Don't have your children bring up the schedule change on your behalf. Your issues with your ex are your issues, and even if you find it hard to work together it's something to model for your children.

Mindfulness practices such as this put the children first and may well keep things cool for everyone.

Source: The Huffington Post, "5 Tips to Prevent Discord While Sharing Custody of the Children Over the Summer, " Steve Mindel, June 7, 2016

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