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For divorced parents, the start of school may mean time to talk

Now that the school year is finally upon us, it means children here in Houston and throughout Texas will soon fall back into the weekly routine of school bus rides, classroom lectures, homework assignments and, of course, extracurricular activities. It also means many divorced parents will fall into their own routines of coordinating schedules and making the necessary daily adjustments.

However, experts indicate that even those divorced parents who are well accustomed to their child custody arrangements and who have navigated several school years without any major incidents may still want to discuss a few issues before the school year kicks into high gear. Such a step, they argue, can help ensure that divorced parents are on the same page as far as communication and, more importantly, serve to make their child's school year that much better.

Some of the issues that divorced parents may want to discuss include:

  • Making plans to meet the new teacher: While divorced parents may think that nothing really changes from year to year at their child's school, this isn't necessarily the case. For instance, their child may have a new teacher who is unfamiliar with their situation at home. As such, experts indicate that it may be worthwhile for both parents to meet with the new teacher (if legal circumstances permit) and explain the divorce/living arrangements. That way, the teacher can will have a better understanding and know to talk to the parents if their child is acting out somehow. 
  • Organize calendars: Once a copy of the school calendar is secured, experts advise divorced parents to get together (if possible) to account for all of the important events (sporting events, recitals, parent-teacher meetings, etc.) and to make the necessary arrangements so that their child can attend all of the events that are important to them. Once this is done, they recommend creating a master calendar outlining who will handle what, and giving copies to their child's teachers and coaches. Lastly, they advise keeping a copy in the child's backpack for easy reference.
  • Remember to behave: The unfortunate truth is that even though divorced parents may be able to make the necessary arrangements for their child's school year, they may have a difficult time maintaining civility over the long run. If this is the case, experts indicate that parents may need to make sure that they alternate attendance at certain events in order to avoid potential bickering. However, they also remind divorced parents that this may not always be a possibility (graduations, parent-teacher conferences, etc.) and that they will have to try their best to remain courteous for the sake of their child.

Child custody-related matters such as visitation, parenting time, and modification can often prove to be complex and emotionally charged. If faced with such a difficult scenario, an experienced family law attorney can provide answers and support, as well as the necessary action.

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

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