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Co-parenting during the new school year in Rhode Island

Summer has come and gone, and school is back in session across Rhode Island. While shopping for new shoes and backpacks and tackling homework may be at the forefront of some parents' minds, divorced parents have a whole other set of concerns: that of their child custody or "parenting plan" schedule. Whether parents divorced over the summer or they have been divorced for years, autumn is a good time for parents to review their parenting plans to ensure they set their child up for success.

It goes without saying that getting divorced is an emotional process. Out of fear, sadness or anger, both parents may have fought for full physical custody of their child. However, if a parent's work schedule clashes with their child's school schedule, or if the parent sought full custody or possession just to hurt the ex-spouse, it could harm the child in the long run. For this reason, some parents turn to co-parenting, sharing child custody and possession so the child's needs can be met.

Co-parenting requires communication. Parents need to ensure they are on the same page when it comes to dropping their child off at school and picking their child up at the end of the day, in addition to child possession exchanges. Parents will need to make sure they are both aware of how their child is doing in school, as well as making sure they both make time for special events, such as class parties and concerts. Keeping the lines of communication open can help parents make sure their child feels secure and the parents are involved in the child's education.

Finally, it is important to review a parenting plan periodically, to ensure it still meets the child's ever-changing needs. For example, an older child might have taken on a new extracurricular activity. Or perhaps a parent's work schedule has changed since the parenting plan was formed. Child possession plans may need to change accordingly, to meet the child's new needs. That being said, modifications to a parenting plan usually must be approved by the court.

Back to school time in Rhode Island is an exciting part of a child's life. When it comes to co-parenting, being consistent, congenial and keeping the best interests of the child in mind can go a long way in making the child feel loved in a supportive environment.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Back to School: 3 Ways To Tell If Your Child Custody Agreement Is The Right Fit," Bari Zell Weinberger, Esq., Sept. 1, 2015

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