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Get an A+ in co-parenting this school year

Last month, we discussed the importance of easing the toll of divorce on your child. As school starts back up this Fall, your child faces yet another transition. He or she needs extra support from both parents during this time, whether you are still married, separated or divorced.

Your custody agreement holds many answers: for example, it should detail who has physical and legal custody, any visitation rights for grandparents and guidelines for relocation. But for tricky areas, like homework and teacher conferences, it may come up short.

Keeping the focus on your child and observing these ground rules may help:

  • Stay on the same page. You may not be on the best terms with your former spouse, but it's important to stay in communication about what's going on with your child at school. Holding regular family meetings can help, as can sharing calendars or checking in periodically with your former spouse.
  • Share responsibilities. When both parents take part in activities like driving to soccer practice or going back-to-school shopping, it lightens the load on each. More importantly, it shows your child that he or she is important and gives him or her some quality time with each parent.
  • Maintain conflict-free zones. Even if it's most convenient for you to swap custody at your child's school, try to pick a neutral spot; your child may not want family matters broadcast at school. As always, avoid discussing contentious matters like child support or custody disagreements in front of your child.
  • Present a united front at school. Barring a high-conflict relationship or a no-contact order, try to attend events like orientation and parent-teacher conferences with your former spouse. This ensures that both of you stay informed and demonstrates a family-wide commitment to your child's education.

If you have questions about child custody, visitation or parenting time, it is best to speak with an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer can help you preserve your rights while advocating for the best interests of your child and entire family.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorced Parents: 5 Tips for a Successful School Year," 08/28/12

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