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Avoiding custody disputes over summer break

With summer vacation days away and the divorce rate hovering somewhere between 40 to 50 percent, many parents may be wondering how they'll coordinate summer trips and daycare drop-off and pick-up with their exes. When relationships between parents are already on shaky ground, bringing up proposed changes to the custody arrangement can be stressful. Below are some tips divorced or separated parents can use to avoid custody disputes and have a great summer with their children.

Preventing fights is key

Avoiding disputes is not always possible, especially when one party refuses to play ball. But as the saying goes, "You catch more flies with honey."

Try separating your ex's role as a former spouse or romantic partner from that person's role as your child's parent. When you are discussing summer custody issues, always speak to the parent, and avoid brining up issues you have with that person as your ex.

Even when they are being disrespectful, try to be polite. When one person refuses to engage in a fight it often takes the wind out of the other's sails. Be the bigger person and you can inspire a more friendly relationship.

Everyone has to compromise sometimes

Compromising does not mean giving up your custody rights. It means that if you want to take a little, you will have to give a little too. For example, if your ex wants to take your kids on a month-long trip out of the state or country, say yes (as long as it is safe for your children) and negotiate more time with them once they get back from their trip. Or persuade your ex to hold off until next year if you already made plans with the kids this summer.

Remember that you both love your children

This might seem a little obvious but it's a good reminder: you are both vying for more time with your children this summer because you both love your kids. Keep this love for your children in mind when communicating with your ex. Divorce is just as hard on children as it is on parents. Keeping your conversations cordial will make life easier for everyone.

Get legal help if you need it

If you are afraid of your ex, or if your ex is mean spirited and refuses to cooperate, consider getting legal help - or contacting police if a discussion turns violent. An experienced family law attorney can help you negotiate a summer child custody solution.

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