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Avoiding co-parenting issues at the start of a school year

You may be the kind of person who takes life as it comes. Instead of having a designated laundry day, you throw in a load when you run out of socks. Your morning routine may be controlled chaos. Your wall calendar may be more about the pretty pictures than actually keeping track of appointments.

All of that has changed since your divorce. For the sake of your kids, you and your ex must learn how to establish a routine and make life more predictable. Now that the Pennsylvania school year is about to start, this could be critical to the success of your children.

Making things good for the kids

While flexibility has its place, children thrive when they know what to expect and what others expect of them. Now that your children will be dividing time between your house, school and your ex's house, it will be crucial to coordinate with your co-parent and clarify those expectations. You will never be able to predict every event or avoid every conflict, but having a routine and a reliable method of communication is a good start. Some tips for the start of the new school year include these:

  • Provide a steady routine for before and after school, and work with your ex to ensure you are both as consistent as possible.
  • Agree on certain rules that will demonstrate a united front to your children, such as eating dinner together or no TV before homework.
  • Notify your children's teachers of the change in your family situation, and share with them the custody schedule you have reached.
  • Decide now which events you will not be able to attend with your ex. For example, you may go to holiday concerts together, but parent conferences may be too intimate to attend at the same time.
  • Take advantage of online calendars and other technology that allows parents to share important dates and deadlines as well as giving kids access to joint schedules.

Back-to-school time has its own stress and frustration. Co-parenting issues do not have to add to that stress. It is important that you and your ex focus on the best interests of the kids. By taking time before school starts, laying some ground rules and reaching out to your children's teachers, you may set the tone for a year of cooperation and success. However, if matters become complicated by the resistance of your ex, you may wish to reach out for legal advice about your options.

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