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Melissa A. Featherston

'Back to school' can raise visitation issues for St. Louis parents

During divorce, child custody and visitation are often the paramount decisions facing St. Louis parents. As parents determine how child custody and visitation schedules will be maintained, it may benefit them to consider how such schedules will affect school-age children. It can be challenging for divorced parents to work out schedules for the full school year, so some experts have offered advice on ways that parents can ease the transition from summer to school when visitation issues may arise.

One of the ways that visitation schedules can be eased once school starts back is by parents working together to be consistent in their schedules. Having a calendar set up with school events and plans can help both parents be involved and informed. It may also benefit families if parents can work out similarly consistent schedules at their individual homes.

Another way that visitation can be helped when school starts is by parents having one well-organized and well-stocked backpack with all the essentials that children need. It can be confusing for children when they have multiple supplies, so having one backpack that can travel between homes may be helpful. Parents should also ensure that the school has information on file for both parents.

When parents both need to be present or active in a school meeting or function, it is recommended that respect and civility be strictly observed. For parents who may not be amicable, the school may be able to schedule individual meetings. Parents can also work out going to the same events but sitting separately.

To help both parents stay informed and involved, experts recommend using technology as a way to communicate. Using tools such as email, texting, or online calendars may help parents share information and photos without having direct communication. But, the application of respect and civility can be doubly important when dealing with these forms of communication.

Visitation issues can be successfully resolved during the school year, but it may take some creative planning and organizing on the part of St. Louis parents. Thankfully, with the help of schools, technology, and a combined interest in what is best for children, parents can make effective arrangements. If parents feel that their visitation schedule needs to be adjusted due to school demands, they may benefit from determining what options they have to modify their child custody and visitation agreement through the court.

Source: Democrat and Chronicle, "Divorced parents need united front for back-to-school planning," Caurie Putnam, Aug. 22, 2012

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