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Negotiating a summer parenting plan? Keep these things in mind

Most legal processes take time. You can't simply present your needs to a Missouri court and expect a judge to resolve your situation overnight. Thinking ahead and being proactive toward meeting your goals are key factors that may at least help expedite the family law process, especially when the issues at hand pertain to co-parenting.

When you decided to divorce, you may have stressed a bit over the impact it would have on your children. While you understood that they should spend time with both their parents, you also wanted to make sure all terms of your co-parenting plan were clearly and specifically written because you could foresee potential problems with your ex, should a plan be too vague. Now that you're nearing custody proceedings, you especially want to make sure your proposed agreement includes details regarding your children's summer breaks.

Use these ideas to avoid complications

Once the court issues a final decree, both parents must adhere to the terms of their custody agreement. The following list includes tips for keeping parenting disputes at bay:

  • Finances: Especially if financial disagreements were key factors leading up to your divorce, you'll want to make sure your co-parenting plan includes specific instructions regarding which parent will pay for which activities during summer. Are your kids going away to camp? Do your day care fees increase during summer? Leaving no stone unturned regarding summer finance needs may help you avoid stress.
  • Parent signature: Plan to travel with your kids? In addition to always carrying a copy of your official child custody judgment, it's also a good idea to have a notarized and signed permission form showing that the other parent is aware of your travel and agrees to it.
  • Share your itinerary: You'll reduce the chances of co-parenting problems arising if you keep your former spouses in the know regarding your travel plans with the kids. Sharing a general itinerary that includes names of hotels and an outline of planned activities gives the other parent a basic idea of where the children are at all times.
  • Seek court approval for all changes: If you initially agree to a particular summer time plan, then need to change it, you must go through the appropriate legal process first. Even if your ex agrees to your proposed changes, the court must approve the new plan before you implement it.

You can obtain court approval by filing a request for modification of your court order. You may not think you'd ever object to your children traveling somewhere with their other parent; however, what if you knew the destination to be an unsavory or dangerous place? You might need the court's intervention to help protect their best interests.

Planning for the future

Co-parenting after divorce isn't always easy but neither is parenting during marriage. You may face different types of challenges in divorce than those you experienced during marriage. That doesn't necessarily mean you'll never again be able to enjoy summer with your kids. It does mean you may have to negotiate a fair and satisfactory agreement; you'll be glad to know there are support resources available to help you achieve your goals.

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