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Back to school tips for divorced parents

It's that time of year again -- back-to-school time, which means new clothes, new lunchboxes, new haircuts and new routines. For divorced parents, especially those who are recently divorced, there may be additional responsibilities for getting your kids ready to start the new year.

The routine shift from the spontaneity of summer to the structure of fall is difficult for all families, but for divorced parents, there is a lot to discuss. Having a neutral conversation before school starts to iron out the details can be helpful. Being in agreement on the routines will keep you both on track and give your children structure and make for an easy adjustment. Plan for everything -- emergency procedures, snow days, packing lunches and pick-up days -- and stay consistent. Keeping the calendars coordinated can be difficult, especially as school and extra-curricular activities begin, but will make the whole situation easier for you and your children. Keep communication open with the other spouse, and duplicate all notifications from school for one another.

The costs of the back-to-school season can be an issue of contention. Usually, the custodial parent pays for the back-to-school supplies, but the other parent may want to be involved in the experience of shopping, or may be willing to contribute. In cases of parents who share expenses, try to purchase all the items in one place to minimize confusion and receipts. Be sure to be on the same page in regards to the kids by discussing what they need together beforehand (before they wind up with new iPods and cell phones!).

The start of a new school year is an exciting and nerve-wracking time for children and parents, and the added stress of money and time can make parents a little stressed. Don't forget that school is for your children, and enjoy this time with them!

Source: The Washington Times Communities, "Back to school tips for divorced parents," Myra Fleischer, Aug. 20, 2012

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