Going back to school amidst the uncertainty that comes with divorce presents a difficult challenge for children who might already be overwhelmed with the transition of new classes, teachers, schedules, friends, activities, and routines. In preparation for the beginning of the school year, divorced parents should re-evaluate their parenting plans and communication strategies to ensure that the going back to school transition is as easy as possible for their children.

One way that divorced parents can simplify the back-to-school experience is by adding all the school’s dates to a shared calendar. School holidays, sports events and musical concerts should all be included. This way, divorced parents have the opportunity to prepare in advance for transportation, costs, and locations for each event.

Another important factor to consider is the vast array of forms that must be signed and completed ahead of the new school year. Activities registration, medical forms and personal information must be updated in a timely manner, and often requires cooperation between both parents. The longer parents delay submitting these forms, the more undue stress is placed on the child. Schools should also be alerted of custody decisions and restrictions on release of information so that they can update their information accordingly.

While there are many wrinkles to smooth out in back-to-school routines, it is not impossible for divorced parents to reduce the challenges that arise with changing family situations. Having a viable and enforceable parenting plan is the first step to ensuring harmony during child custody transitions.