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Back to school doesn't have to mean trouble for divorced parents

While it may seem hard to believe, thousands of kids across the state of Minnesota have already started the school year, with the remainder slated to board school buses and file back into their classrooms in less than a week. While most kids are understandably reluctant to start another year of reading, writing and arithmetic, they typically adjust after a relatively short amount of time and pick up right where they left off.

The adjustment period might not be so easy for recently divorced parents, however, as they not only have to adjust to child custody arrangements, but must now address a host of relatively new school-related issues such as schedules, expenses and contact information to name only a few.

Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that divorced parents can take to help facilitate a calm and enjoyable school year for their kids.

Meet ahead of time to discuss logistics: Experts recommend that divorced parents come together in a neutral location (if possible) either prior to the start of the school year or within the first few weeks of school to resolve issues and establish a routine. This can mean making arrangements about everything from meals and pickup times to after-school activities and homework. Once this is completed, they advise writing it down and sharing a copy with children so they can understand what to expect and can start adjusting to a routine as soon as possible.

Make a concerted effort to share information: Experts indicate that in the absence of any kind of protective order, divorced parents should make a real effort to arrange for separate school-related notifications (progress reports, school activity forms, etc.). Such a step can help ensure that both parents are in the loop regarding their child's school life and eliminate the need for them to rely upon one another to copy/forward important documents.

If this proves impossible, experts recommend simply keeping a folder in the child's backpack into which all important notifications or graded homework can be placed. The noncustodial parent can then simply check the folder each time they see their child, and receive the necessary updates.

If you have questions or concerns regarding child custody, child support or other divorce-related matters, you should strongly consider consulting with an experienced attorney who can outline your options and enforce your rights.

Source: The Washington Times, "9 back to school tips for divorced families," Myra Fleischer, August 15, 2013

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