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Back-to-school tips for divorced or separated parents

As the academic school year begins for students across Marin County, newly separated parents may struggle through difficult conversations related to permanent custody. On the other hand, a heated exchange over college expenses and tuition can occur when parents never resolved the issue in a marital termination agreement.

Directly confronting the issues may be the best piece of advice. A few other tips can smooth the transition from summer to a school year schedule.

If you separated during the summer and have been working through the details of a divorce, back to school will be a time of major transition for your children. The flexible summer schedule of every other week with each parent may not fit.

Depending on the distance between homes and the impact that has on school districts, you may need a new schedule. Expect the transition to be more difficult, because your child will be living between two homes for the first time. You may want to reach out to teachers, school counselors or family therapists who can provide support.

If you are still in the divorce process, you need to consider what will work best for your child and negotiate a workable permanent child custody and visitation arrangement. Seeking help from a skilled family law attorney is one way to shift your focus. An attorney can handle the legal matters, while you spend energy helping your child adjust.

Dealing with modifications or omissions in prior orders

Parents who have been divorced for many years can also face conflict at this time of year. The excitement over a child going to Berkeley may turn to disagreements over who will pay the costs.

A prior order may have reserved the issue of college tuition and costs. Or the marital termination agreement may not have addressed the issue at all, because the children were young at the time of the divorce.

A family law attorney can review existing documents and then advise on a strategy to reach the best outcome. Getting assistance before an argument escalates and negatively effects your child always pays off significant dividends.

Source: Huffington Post, "Back-to-School for Kids of Divorce," Jenny Kanevsky, Aug. 20, 2015

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