You hopefully have been enjoying summer break with your kids, even if your family has experienced a major life change since school let out. Perhaps during this summer you decided that you’d rather move on in life than stay in an unhappy marriage. It’s not uncommon for South Dakota parents to divorce while their kids are home from school on summer break.
However, with a new school year just a week or so away in this state and many others, you’ll want to make sure that you and your co-parent have a plan in place that will help your kids make a smooth transition and will help you avoid legal problems as you navigate your first school year after finalizing your divorce.
Joint child custody versus sole child custody in divorce
If you and your ex are on friendly or civil terms with one another, you may have agreed to share custody of your children in your divorce. On the other hand, if yours is one of many South Dakota families where a parent has a substance abuse problem or has committed child neglect or abuse, you may have petitioned the court for sole custody of your kids.
While it’s possible to help your children have a good school year in either case, the latter often proves a bit more challenging due to extenuating issues. For instance, if your ex refuses to adhere to a court order, such as showing up at school to take your kids when he or she is prohibited from doing so, it may not only cause a high degree of stress for your children but serious legal problems as well.
Keeping these helpful tips in mind may help avoid back-to-school trouble
The following list includes four ideas for helping your children navigate their first school year after your divorce and for helping you and your ex to avoid legal problems:
- Draft a thorough and detailed co-parenting agreement, including all relevant issues, such as who may pick up kids at school or which parent a teacher should call if there’s a problem.
- If neither parent poses a risk to the children in question, it’s best to try to attend special school events, whether you alternate turns or simply sit apart from one another while you’re both there.
- Agree to keep your children’s social and academic needs in mind when developing your co-parenting routine for the year ahead; agreeing to cooperate and compromise for their sake can help minimize stress.
- Keep adult issues between adults and agree to correspond through whatever means best helps you avoid confrontation.
If a child custody or school-related problem arises in connection with your recent divorce that you don’t feel equipped to handle on your own, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out for additional support.
Your children’s teachers, guidance counselors and coaches, as well as your own extended family members and close friends (especially those in South Dakota who have gone through similar experiences) can work with you to help your kids adapt to their new family routine as the school year unfolds after your divorce. You can also tap into local resources (especially if there are legal problems) to help you resolve a specific child custody or divorce-related issues.