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Controlling emotions when dealing with an ex-spouse

With most schools in New York out or almost out, divorced parents may suddenly find themselves away from their children for extended periods of time, depending on their child custody arrangement. Many parents split summer break, while others alternate physical custody every other week. Whatever the arrangement may be, a divorced parent may find himself or herself spending more time with their ex-spouse and this could cause friction. A couple of tips on how to manage the summer could be helpful in this situation.

One of the most important steps to take is to plan ahead. No one likes a constantly changing schedule and this is one of the most common reasons for child custody disputes. Have a schedule in place by February and then plan to stick to it. When in the planning stages, if children are old enough, let them have a say in their schedule. Things feel out of control for children after a divorce and shuttling between two houses may work for the parents, but doesn't necessarily work for the kids. It can be hard on everyone if kids feel their wishes are not being respected if they want to spend a certain week at their primary residence with their friends. This is why involving them at the planning stages can be helpful-it will help them feel more in control and lead to less chaos in the long-run.

In the same vein, don't spring last-minute changes on an ex-spouse. People generally plan their vacations well in advance, so a sudden request for an additional 10 days can be disruptive. An individual can certainly ask for a major change, but shouldn't get upset when the request is turned down. On the other hand, if agreeing to the major change doesn't cause a problem, both parties should consider developing a relationship of give and take rather than focusing on their own needs. Giving in to reasonable demands also gives parents leeway to demand something at a later time.

No one likes to be away from their children for a long time over the summer break, but it is often in the children's best interests to spend time with both parents so they can develop a relationship with the children.

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