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Too hot for family law litigation?

As our San Antonio weather continues to heat up, so do arguments among married and divorced couples. One common argument at this time of the year revolves around summer plans for the kids.

An attorney writing for the Huffington Post recently described a situation a client encountered after getting a divorce and sharing custody of her 10-year-old son.

The family law attorney noted that her client had been divorced for two years, and that the couple had a divorce settlement which stated that the woman's former husband was to pay 60 percent of summer camp expenses.

Here's where the problem came in to the picture: the ex-husband wants to send the boy to an expensive, out-of-state camp. The ex-wife says the boy is too young to go far away and prefers that he stay nearby at a day camp, which will also be significantly less costly.

The son is eager to go to the out-of-state camp.

The attorney told the woman that there's an underlying conflict that she needs to understand before she can resolve the dispute with her ex.

The attorney suggests the woman speak with a family law mediator, divorce coach or parenting coordinator who can help steer the discussion in a positive direction. That doesn't mean the woman will get what she wants, but it does mean there is likely a workable compromise available that both parents will be able to agree on.

The attorney urged the woman to identify her interests, listing all her reasons for wanting the son at the nearby camp, and then do the same for her ex-husband's reasons for wanting the boy to attend the other camp.

Then take the former husband's list of interests and figure out three possible alternatives to his plan (alternatives that meet his objectives) and that she would be willing to agree to.

A suggested alternative: having the boy attend an overnight camp that is closer to home. In that way, one of the dad's objectives is met (helping the boy mature away from home) while also achieving one of the mom's objectives (keeping her son nearby).

After coming up with viable alternatives, the attorney urged the woman to present them to the ex. Ideally, he would also thought of compromises, but since life is often less than ideal, she might well need to look for opportunities to resolve the dispute using alternatives that meet his objectives (and her own).

The attorney recommends the process as a way of avoiding litigation and headaches.

Source: Huffington Post Blog, "Mediating Your Summer Camp Squabbles," Diane L. Danois, J.D., May 13, 2013

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