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Reducing custody stress during the school year

Missouri custody decisions can involve physical and legal custody rights. If you have physical custody of your children, your children's main residence is your home. If you have legal custody, you are the parent who makes the critical decisions on your child's behalf. However, more often lately, courts are working to provide a more equitable balance of time and authority to both parents. Perhaps you and your ex were able to reach a parenting plan on your own.

Regardless of how you resolved your custody issues, the start of a new school year has the potential to create chaos out of the most well-ordered plan. As much as you hope to provide a stress-free and positive new school year for your children, you and your ex may be unable to avoid frustrating disputes unless you plan your methods of communicating throughout the school year.

Communication is key

When children travel between two houses, it is common for them to forget supplies, misplace assignments or confuse the days when they have after school activities. This can be frustrating and demoralizing for a child, but you and your ex can take steps to reduce the chances that this will happen. In the days before school begins, you may wish to schedule time to sit calmly with your ex and work out a plan. Some things to discuss include the following:

  • Completing emergency contact and health forms together to ensure you are both aware of their contents
  • Creating a joint email account with your ex specifically for communications from the school
  • Agreeing with your ex on a schedule that you can post at home so the children will feel more stability in their routines
  • Keeping in mind that when conflicts arise, their resolutions should always have the children's best interests at heart
  • Determining the most effective times and ways to communicate with each other about the children at regular intervals, such as weekly

By having a weekly conversation to update each other, you and your ex can preview the upcoming week and coordinate when your child may need to bring sports equipment, complete a school project or attend an after-school club meeting. This solidarity can go a long way in keeping your children's stress to a minimum during the school year.

Of course, much of this hinges on the cooperation of your ex. You may find that your parenting partner is not willing to communicate or is intentionally preventing you from participating in your children's lives. If you face this situation, you would be wise to seek legal advice before too much time passes.

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Clayton, MO 63105

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