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Summer’s End

Even though the temperatures are still blazing in the desert, days are long and the nights are sultry, for most Arizona kids, summer (meaning the summer break from school) is almost at an end.  As we approach the 2010 – 2011 school year, you should be asking yourself a few key questions: Are the kids doing well on the current parenting schedule and, if they aren’t, what changes could we make now that would help them in the new school year? Is this the right school for our children right now?  Should we consider a change to private / public / charter / Montessori / non-traditional / parochial? Do we need to address certain issues with each child individually?  For example, if one child has learning challenges, another is having behavioral issues, and your eldest is entering the hormone zone, how do  you parent each one to his and her best potential? Do we have our school year holiday schedule all worked out?  Who gets Thanksgiving and Christmas this year?  Are there any vacations on the horizon that your co-parent should be notified of? When are the upcoming teacher conferences and are both parents attending? If you like to be involved with your children’s school activities, have you worked out a schedule with your co-parent about who is bringing treats or attending field trips throughout the year? If your child’s schedule is changing, have you arranged for before or after school care?  Who will transport the kids to extracurricular activities like sports and music lessons? These are the questions that most parents are rolling around in their minds yet often don’t get around...

Summer Vacation

Summer Vacation is just around the corner — only a few weeks away!  I know, it’s hard to believe, and that means trips, child care, and camp.  To make sure that you and your co-parent are on the same page, make sure to review your parenting orders and start planning now.  Here are some things to consider: Give timely notice of your vacation plans, if it’s required by your orders.  Don’t wait until the last minute to let your co-parent know your vacation dates.  Remember, holidays trump vacation, so pay attention to Memorial Day and Independence Day holidays. Provide a detailed itinerary, including mode of travel, route, flight numbers (if applicable), hotel or lodging information, phone numbers, and departure and arrival times.  No, it’s not too much information and it’s not about control or permission.  This type of information can be critical in the event of an emergency situation. Coordinate the child care or summer camp that your child will be attending so that there is no unnecessary overlap or expense.  One-sided decisions about where Joey and Suzi will be spending their summer days is not endearing to your co-parent! Extended family visits require additional coordination.  If you want the kids to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm for a month during the summer, consider how that may impact  your co-parent’s summer plans before you make a promise you can’t keep.  First, talk it over with your co-parent to find out if it’s feasible and then consider whether the two of you want to agree on some “make up” time.  Some co-parents simply agree that time away from both parents is “regular” parenting...

5 Scenarios For A Parenting Plan Tune-up

The over-arching theme of co-parenting is that “things change” — kids get older, change schools, you and/or your co-parent remarry, you move to a new neighborhood and, all the while, your Parenting Plan is safely tucked away in a file cabinet, becoming an outdated old clunker of a plan. As we like to say in family law practice, the best Parenting Plans set out “fall back” positions, are filed with the Court, thrown in a drawer, and never see the light of day again … because you and your co-parent are  raising your kids and working together as family members should.  Even in the best co-parenting relationships, situations sometimes arise that will have you digging around looking for that dusty old legal document to figure out what to do next.  And then, when you find it, you may be surprised to find that it says something you didn’t expect or doesn’t say anything at all about your new situation. Here are a few common scenarios that we see and I have outlined them for you so you can think about whether or not your Parenting Plan may need a tune-up. Babies became teens:  If your Parenting Plan was written for wee ones and your babies are now in driver’s ed, it’s likely that your parenting arrangements, vacations, and holiday plans have all changed, too.  Maybe your Parenting Plan was concerned with day care, but now should be addressing curfews and college choices.  Definitely time for a tune-up! Blended families and Parenting Plans:  It’s a few years down the road and now you have yours, his, ours, and theirs.  How do you...

Are You Insane?

Albert Einstein (a fairly smart fellow) said that the definition of insanity was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  In that respect, it’s fairly simple to self-diagnose!  If you’ve been doing the same things over and over and still expect to see different results, you might be insane … or, you might be giving a conditioned response. Insanity needs attention from someone trained in psychiatry.  (Not my gig.) Conditioned responses need attention from you, because the only cure for the conditioned response is awareness and a willingness to change.  So what does this have to do with family law?  As it turns out, quite a lot.  You see, if you are repeatedly responding in an unhealthy way to conflicts or issues with your co-parent, expecting THEM to change, you’re probably going to be disappointed (at the very least). Here’s an example of conditioned responses (CR): You:  I’ll be there at 6 to pick up Andrew and Emily. Them (Pushing Your Button):  I told you that I needed to leave at 6.  Be here at 5:30 or not at all. You (CR):  You didn’t tell me that.  Besides, the orders say 6 and that’s when I’ll be there. Them (CR):  You heard me.  5:30 or don’t bother. You (CR):  I have to work for a living, so I’ll be there at 6. Them (CR):  Don’t bother because we won’t be here. You (CR):  Fine. I just won’t bother following court orders, but I’ll be calling my lawyer in the morning. Them (CR):  Fine.  Go ahead. But you still won’t see the kids tonight. You (CR):  Screw you!...

Create a new tradition!

Create a New Tradition for Your New Family Dynamic This may be your first holiday season wearing your New Family suit, and it might  not feel as comfortable as you would like, so here are some ideas to help you find the joy in the season: New Family. You, your children, your coparent, and extended family on both sides are now part of a New Family. Treat each other with the care and compassion that you would treat your own family members (would you be snippy or sarcastic to your favorite aunt or beloved sibling?). Try to remember to approach all of your interactions while silently saying the words Compassion, Gratitude, and Harmony. It will help you focus on what’s important. Kids first. If you and your co-parent (notice, we don’t use the word “ex”) are focused on what will make the holidays best for the children, you will almost certainly do the right thing. That doesn’t mean competing to see who can out-spend or one-up the other. In fact, the best way to show your love may be to discuss and agree with your co-parent on what gifts the children will receive and then present them from both of you. You can also agree to alternate favorite activities, or attend together. For example, if a “sparkle tour” is a favorite Christmas Eve activity, rent a van and take along another family. It creates a sense of adventure for the children and gives you, as co-parents, a buffer zone of other people to interact with just in case things are tense. New Traditions. Memories of Christmas (or Thanksgiving, Hanukkah,...