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4 tips to help you avoid custody chaos during summer break

When you're a divorced parent, three-fourths of the year you probably fall into a predictable routine where your custody and visitation schedule is concerned.

Then along comes summer vacation.

Suddenly, your routine goes out the window and it's easy to get confused about what is supposed to happen -- and confusion can breed conflict with your ex-spouse.

Here are some tips to avoid the chaos that can come along with summer custody schedules:

1. Get out your paperwork.

Your custody agreement should spell out exactly how summer vacation is defined. If your child is to stay with you (or with their other parent) for the summer, visitation probably starts right after school ends and ends the day before school starts back up. Check your documents, however, to see if there are any other specifics that you need to observe.

2. Communicate clearly with your ex-spouse.

If your child's school schedule is running overdue to snow days or something else, make sure that you don't let the issue take their other parent by surprise. Even if you only communicate via text or email, make sure that you're in touch regarding dates and times for the custody exchange.

3. Take the time to negotiate for special dates.

This is also the time to negotiate for any special dates you want to spend with your child. For example, if you have a family picnic in June or your birthday is in July, talk to your ex-spouse now about reserving those dates and get the agreement in writing.

4. Don't overlook the issue of support.

If you're ordered to pay support most of the year, you might think that you can stop the support payments during the time your child is with you in the summer, especially if it's for a month or longer. However, you can't alter your support payments without the court's blessing. Keep making payments unless you have a modification that allows you to put them on pause for the summer.

If you have any confusion about your rights regarding summer custody or child support, make sure that you get experienced legal advice soon.

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