Back-to-school tips for newly divorced parents

Back-to-school time can be as stressful for parents as for kids. That's especially true for parents who will be facing their first new school year since their separation or divorce.

If you and your co-parent share custody of your children, you both want to be involved in their education and extracurricular activities. There are three vital steps you should take to do this:

Get your schedules in order

Make sure that you have a clearly outlined schedule in your parenting plan. This includes not just which days the kids will be staying at each parent's home. It needs to include school drop-offs and pick-ups and where the kids will be after school. The kids should have a copy of the schedule as well.

Get the school calendar for the year so that you can work out where the kids will be on days off that might not be in your custody agreement. You should have your custody schedule for winter and spring break already determined.

Keep your teachers and school officials informed. Teachers and administrators need to know whether to notify both parents separately about issues and events. If the two of you can participate in parent-teacher meetings together, that's typically best. However, if you prefer to meet separately with teachers, let them know.

If one of your children is having difficulty adjusting to the divorce, you may want to meet with the school counselor as well as coaches, music teachers or others at the school who will be around your child a lot.

Make a plan to stay in communication throughout the school year. One of you may be more involved with school activities than the other. That person should keep the other parent informed. Too often, a parent will "forget" to tell their ex about a recital, game or spelling bee. While you may want to be the only parent there, that's not fair to your child or to your co-parent.

There are plenty of co-parenting apps where parents can share this information without having to communicate directly. Determine how you're going to communicate with one another regarding grades, field trips, expenses and all school-related topics.

If you find as the school year rolls along that you need to make some changes to your parenting plan or even to your custody and visitation agreement for your children's benefit, your attorney can help you work to do that.

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