Back to School for Children of Divorce

It’s that time of year again: the weather is cooling down, days are becoming a little shorter, and kids are going back to school. Parents everywhere are breathing a deep sigh of relief as they wrap up back to school shopping and send their children off for their first day of class. While never an easy time for any child, those who are trying to cope with their parent’s divorce may need extra help getting back into the academic swing of things.

Should the School Know?

A question that often comes up during divorce proceedings is whether or not parents should inform the school of their separation. Going into detail about a divorce is not required, but it is important to provide updated contact information for both parents. Unless there is an Order of Protection preventing one parent from having contact with a child, school staff and administration must be able to reach both parties during an emergency.

If a child is exhibiting any signs of anger, depression, or severe mood and personality changes, then it may be in their best interest to inform the school that there is a major shift going on at home. Parents do not need to go into the specifics of their divorce, but they should alert the principal, the child’s teachers, and the school counselor of any behavioral changes or outbursts their child may have. In doing so, parents can work in conjunction with administration and staff to develop a plan of action for how to address, and resolve, these issues. Weekly meetings with a school therapist can be scheduled, as well.

Divorce, especially high conflict actions, can wreak havoc on children. They should think of school as a safe place, away from the drama of their home life. Parents and teachers should encourage children to participate in art and music classes, as well as extracurricular actives, as a healthy outlet for them to learn how to better cope with divorce.

Make the Transition Easier

In order to focus on their studies and academic success, adolescents and teens must have stable and supportive home environments. Routine is key for helping kids get back into the swing of things when the school year begins, especially if they are still getting used to living in two separate households.

Since such an extreme change can be stressful for a child, it is recommended that parents create consistency between households. This means the same set of rules regarding homework, curfews, and bedtime. If a custody agreement stipulates a child spend time at the non-custodial parent’s home during the school week, make sure there is an adequate amount of clothing and personal care items available so they do not need to pack a suitcase.

Younger children may have an especially hard time being away from one of their parents, which may affect their performance or behavior in school. To prevent this, both parties need to make a conscious effort to facilitate communication between the child and other parent. A phone call or video chatting session between the child and their mom or dad should be included in afternoon and evening schedules.

Co-Parenting is Key

Creating a successful co-parenting strategy is a key component to getting children back to school during, or after, a divorce. Co-parenting doesn’t always come easy, but it is important that ex-spouses try to put their differences aside for the sake of their children. Remaining a united front can help create a sense of security for children, which can lead to a successful school year.

If parents are unable to co-parent in a traditional manner, then they need to seek help from other resources. Technology companies are changing the way ex-spouses communicate by creating websites and apps that assist with facilitating a successful co-parenting strategy. Parents can communicate via a message board, as well as update a shared calendar with field trip, after school events, and doctor’s appointments.

Co-parenting during the school year takes a little extra effort if parties are not able to get along. It is a good idea to create a calendar of events, and write down which parent will attend a particular occasion. For instance, Mom can go to the band recital, while dad attends a basketball game. Rotating which parent attends which event can ensure that both parents play an active and engaging role in their children’s life. And really, what is more important than that?

For more information co-parenting strategies, as well as New York divorce and child custody actions, contact Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.

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