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Start thinking about custody, school schedules and holidays now

Most kids in the United States have the summer off from school. The summer is often a time when families take vacations and enjoy the great outdoors.

For divorced families, the back-to-school season can be a source of conflict. It may have been easy to remain flexible about your family situation during the summer when your kids are available all day.

Once the school year starts, there is less time for you to share with your children. That can quickly lead to conflicts in schedule and parenting issues. Careful attention to detail when creating your parenting plan or adjusting it can reduce conflicts.

Make sure you have a reliable and steady after-school arrangement

Whether your children participate in extracurricular activities or come straight home from school, you want to have a reliable and predictable after school schedule. Generally speaking, your children should be able to anticipate the same daily schedule, regardless of which parent currently has custody.

Shared custody and responsibilities are the new normal in divorce. If you alternate weeks with your ex, that can be a easy way to keep things stable from day to day. If you alternate days during the week, make sure you agree on timing and when you exchange custody.

You should both agree on basic things, like the general time the kids should eat dinner and when during the day homework gets finished. Establishing consistent rules on these important topics makes it easier for you to co-parent successfully.

Do you have a workable holiday plan in place?

Holidays are often a source of conflict in a divorce with children. Do certain holidays matter more to you and others to your ex, or do you both place similar levels of importance on the same holidays?

For some families, if one parent wants to spend Halloween with the kids and the other Christmas, that can be the standard every year. For other families, it may be necessary to alternate holidays throughout the year and rotate the schedule every other year. One year, you get Thanksgiving and your ex gets Christmas. The next year, you get Christmas and your ex gets Thanksgiving.

Make sure you agree on school functions and special events

From musical programs to major games, your kids will definitely have events they want you to attend during the school year. Ideally, you and your ex can come to an agreement that allows you to both attend these major milestone events.

Barring that, you should take steps now to split up these events. Make sure your children understand that you both support their extracurricular activities and academic achievement, regardless of who attends what.

So long as you keep the focus on your children, you and your ex should be able to work through custody disagreements, no matter how emotional you become.

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