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How to successfully co-parent during the summer

Divorced parents in Illinois may need to revise their co-parenting plans for the summer. As children get older, their needs change, and they may want to spend more time with friends or have other obligations. Parents should try to work out summer plans as early as possible, so their children know what to expect.

Once parents have agreed on a plan, they should share it with their children. They can put up calendars in both households that have summer schedules marked on them to help everyone keep track. Predictability can help reduce anxiety in children.

Parents should also review household rules and expectations and try to ensure consistency between households. They may not agree on every aspect of parenting. However, big differences, such as allowing the child hours of screen time in one home and very limited time in the other, can be confusing for the child. Establishing boundaries can be healthy for children. Throughout this process, parents should treat one another with respect. Even if they are angry or frustrated with one another, they should keep the focus on the well-being of the child. Finally, they should think about the long term. Parents should try to be flexible on issues that only affect summer plans and will not have far-reaching consequences.

Negotiating child custody and visitation can be a difficult part of divorce. Parents may be able to remove some uncertainty by including plans for summer, holidays and vacations in the parenting schedule. They should also try to make allowances for schedule changes. However, in some cases, those changes might be permanent. For example, one parent might want to relocate, or an older child might want to live with the other parent. In these situations, people may need to return to court and get a modification.

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