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Back-to-school time could be different following a divorce

Fall is almost here, and school is back in session for many parts of the country. This time of year brings challenges, particularly in the first few weeks as children and parents alike must deal with changes like getting up earlier, settling back into a bedtime routine, packing school lunches and juggling homework time with after-school activities like sports and clubs.

All these changes can be even more of an adjustment when parents are divorced or divorcing when school gets back into session. In addition to standard issues, there will also come bumps and blips associated with the child splitting time with parents. Unless the parents have a well-formed and well-executed child custody and visitation arrangement, the transition could potentially be much more difficult and stressful for the child.  

There are several relatively easy things that parents can do to make this time easier on their kids. For example, establishing a detailed custody and parenting time schedule – and sticking to it – can make a huge difference in everyone's lives. Children need structure to thrive, so making sure they have clear guidance about where they will be and with whom they will be staying can take away much of a child's anxiety.  

In addition, using technology that both parents can access like online document- and calendar-sharing programs to monitor school expenses and to keep up with the child's schedule will keep things consistent for the child and could reduce conflicts between the parents. Making sure that your child has support from resources like teachers and school counselors can also make the transition from one family to two an easier one, as will remaining united in parenting decisions and fighting the urge to undercut the other parent's authority for the sake of gaining favor with the child.

Even though you are no longer a couple, you are both still co-parents; keep your child's best interests at heart, and the process of heading back to school will go smoother for everyone involved. 

Source: Huffington Post, "5 Back to School Strategies for Divorced or Divorcing Parents," Cheryl and Joe Dillon, August 11, 2014. 

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