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Co-parents: Prepare for the challenges of back-to-school season

In the coming weeks, kids across New York will be readjusting to their new school schedule. It is also a time of adjustment for parents, particularly those who are co-parenting and new to the changes that come with the transition from summer vacation to a regular school schedule.

If you are in this group, understand that this transition can be confusing and frustrating the first time around. Below are a few steps you can take to make this situation a little easier for you and your kids.

Review your parenting plan

You may have made your parenting plan weeks or months ago, so it is crucial that you review it. Make sure you know what is says about your school-related financial obligations, parenting time changes and rules for communication between parents and the school.

Talk to your kids about schedule changes

Your child can be just as uneasy about custody schedule changes as you are, if not more so. Talk to them about changes in where they are staying, who will be picking them up or dropping them off, and how to contact either parent if they get lost or confused.

Discuss parenting situation with teachers and school administrators

You and the other parent of your child can briefly explain that you are co-parenting when you meet your child's new teachers. This gives the teacher context for what a child might be experiencing and how best to maintain open dialogue between the school and home. If your child is switching schools, make sure administrators have both parents' contact information.

Don't let minor disputes spiral out of control

In times of transition, parents can act out of fear or desperation. If you are scared about any changes in parenting time or concerned about the other parent's failure to comply with the parenting agreement, talk to your attorney sooner, rather than later. Doing so can help you assess the situation from a legal perspective and get a handle on your options before a custody dispute escalates.

Above all, remember that this transition is temporary. You and your kids will adjust and find a new normal. In the meantime, remember to comply with your parenting plan and focus on the relationship between you and your children.

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