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4 Tips to Navigate Back-to-School Post-Divorce

Back-to-school season can be a difficult time for any family. It's always hard getting children to transition out of the freedom of summertime and back into the routine of school. However, this time of year can be even more difficult for families that have recently gone through a divorce.

Families going through divorce have to deal with the added problems of new child custody arrangements and a lot of emotional stress. In addition, all the turmoil of the divorce might make children more likely to act out, both at home and at school.

There are some steps that recently divorced parents can take to make this back-to-school season go as smoothly as possible. Experts recommend that parents consider the following factors:

  • Put everything on the calendar: At the start of the school year, both parents should sit down and make plans for school events, vacations and early-release days. Deciding who will handle those days early on can prevent confusion down the road. Many parents find it helpful to use a shared online calendar.
  • Plan for sick days: Make sure your children (and the school) know who is allowed to pick them up if they need to go home early or if there is an emergency at school. Work out a "Plan B" in case the designated parent is unavailable.
  • Don't swap custody at school: Custody exchanges are filled with tension, especially at the start of a divorce. Don't subject your children to unneeded embarrassment or stress by doing the swap at school. Instead, choose a mutually convenient public location.
  • Help with homework: Both parents have an equal responsibility to foster their children's academic success. Make sure you are helping with homework in an age-appropriate way and keeping track of when big assignments are due.

Divorce is hard on kids, and making them feel special will take a team effort. Putting your differences aside and focusing on your children can help make this school year a success.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorcing Parents: 5 Tips For A Successful School Year," Bari Zell, August 28, 2012.

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