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Back-to-school advice for separated and divorced parents

Is this your family's first fall since you and your spouse broke up? Maybe you've been separated or divorced for a time, but one or more of your kids is moving up to middle school or high school this year. Either way, this time of year brings challenges for co-parents who are no longer together and for their children. However, with some planning and cooperation, you can make things easier -- particularly for your kids.

If the break-up is recent and one of your kids is still struggling, you may want to inform their teacher, counselor and possibly other adults like coaches of any troubling signs they might spot. Make sure that your kids' schools have accurate contact information and know which parents) to call in an emergency.

Ensure that your parenting plan is specific about which parent is picking up and dropping off kids each day and which home they'll be going to after school. Sometimes, kids who take the bus will use two different routes, depending on which parent they're staying with on a particular night. Be sure that your kids have everything they need when they leave for school in the morning if they're going to your co-parent's home after school.

Consistency is crucial, so try to keep the schedule the same each week, if possible. Use online and/or paper calendars to ensure that you, your co-parent and your children know the schedule.

Work out how you and your co-parent are dividing school and extracurricular expenses in your parenting agreement. Your child shouldn't have to endure a parental squabble before they can turn in their band uniform or field trip money. There are plenty of online tools for co-parents to share and track their expenses.

The new school year is a great time to show your kids that their parents are united in their care and support for them. That includes having consistent expectations regarding their grades, school night bedtimes and commitment to homework. Now isn't the time to compete to be the "most fun parent."

After the school year gets underway, if you believe that changes to your custody or parenting arrangements or your support agreement, talk with your Arizona family law attorney. They can help you work to seek the changes needed to help your kids thrive.

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