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Co-parenting at school when you can't be around your ex

The North Carolina school year is underway, and you may be seeing only the beginning of how your divorce will affect your child. It was likely a difficult time for you, and you may be making your best effort to protect your child from the emotional turmoil that divorce often brings.

Ideally, you and your ex are on the same page about how to handle matters involving your children. Unfortunately, if the wounds from a difficult divorce are still fresh, you may find this school year to be rough when it comes to showing a united front for your child. As uncomfortable as it may be to interact with your ex-spouse, there may be times during this school year when, for the sake of your child, you have no choice.

How to keep the peace

If the last thing you want to do is to spend time in the same room with your ex, you may wish to take some steps now to avoid that situation as much as possible. You certainly do not want to have a breakdown or a raging argument with your ex in front of your child's teacher or other parents. You know your limitations and the level of contact you can handle. With hope, things will improve between you and your ex, but for now, you may consider the following:

  • Inform your child's school and teacher about the breakup. This may help avoid uncomfortable moments for your child if the staff assumes Mom and Dad are still together.
  • Request separate conferences with your child's teacher. Many teachers are happy to comply as long as you do not use the conference as a time to air your grievances about your ex.
  • Agree with your ex to choose opposite sides of the room or arena during school events, such as concerts or athletic activities. Your child may not care that you sit together as long as you are both there to cheer.
  • Choose your battles. If your ex does not enforce homework, discipline or other routines, you can decide to maintain the boundaries your child needs to thrive.
  • Do not assume it will always be this way. Little by little, you and your ex may be able to let go of some of the emotions that prevent you from interacting normally.

Of course, you may face circumstances where your ex makes matters impossible by not complying with the court-ordered divorce terms. If this occurs, having a legal ally may help you obtain compliance so you can focus on making this a successful school year for your child.

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