August Newsletter: Joint Custody; Back-to-school Tips for Divorced Parents; Student Loan Stress

Joint Custody with a Jerk

This is a title of a popular self help book written by Dr. Julie A. Ross.   The title itself can sum up what you may be feeling in coping with your former spouse.  The book offers some tips to deal with communication.   It is not easy.   You may need to work to make communication be effective.   A good parenting plan is also effective so that you are not manipulated or lose control of the situation.  If you are dealing with someone who likes to ”push your buttons”, there are ways that a good parenting plan can help.    A “Parenting/Visitation Plan” is a great start to controlling the situation.  It provides definition for the parenting time that can be as structured as it is needed to be.  Parenting Plans are great when conflict arises and each party has their time specified and identified.   For example, what time do I have the kids on a major holiday.   That way you can plan your day without having to go back and forth to arrange pick and drop off times.   Or, if  you have the children for the weekend and you have time scheduled for a Monday holiday, you should be able to keep the children overnight on Sunday evening.   This makes sense and you can plan for a long weekend.   LET YOUR PARENTING PLAN WORK FOR YOU!   It will save you time and stress in the long run.

Back-to-school Tips for Divorced or Separated Parents

The dog days of summer are over! August is upon us and families are frantically shopping for school supplies and loading up backpacks as the kids head back to the classroom.

We have a five tips to keep the peace with your ex and get the kids back into the swing of school routines.

  1.  Keep them in the loop.  Many schools will send notices and calendars to both mom and dad, even if they aren’t in the same household.  Know your ex won’t sign up for this?  Then sign up for them and to keep them in the loop.  As they have the calendar, it’s their obligation to participate and you avoid your ongoing need to inform them of inservice days, vacations, etc.
  2. Share activity calendars.  Worried your ex will forget about soccer practice?  Use a shared calendar to keep up with your children’s activities. While last minute changes are par for the course, they will know the basic schedule of activities, practices, games, etc.
  3. Keep their teachers informed.  Talk to your children’s teachers to let them know what’s going on.  Is your school planning a “Bring your Dad to school day” and Dad now lives in California?  Let your child’s teacher know in advance?  Is there a “Mom and Me Dance” and Mom is no longer in the picture?  Keep your child’s teacher informed.
  4. Make homework a priority.  So often we see issues arise when homework and school assignments aren’t completed during mid-week or weekend parenting time.  Have your child keep a homework journal in his or her backpack.  Each parent can check in to make sure assignments are completed during their parenting time.
  5. What kind of parent will I be? The other parent will determine how involved they will be in the child’s school, activities, etc. If you provide the information, you know you have fulfilled your obligation and it’s the decision of the other parent as to their level of involvement.

Looking for more back to school tips?  Check out this Huffington Post Article with tips from other divorced and separated parents.

Are Student Loans Stressing You Out? Don’t Let Them!

Student loans can be confusing.  If your or your child’s student loan situation is keeping you up at night – don’t let it!  The best remedy is education.  Student loans are serious business!  For divorced or separated families, student loans factor into parental college contribution.  For parents or students taking out these loans, it’s important to understand that they must be repaid and cannot be eliminated in a bankruptcy.  Whether you’re dealing with a recent college graduate navigating consolidations and repayment terms or college is on the horizon.  Now is a good time to arm yourself with valuable knowledge.

There are lots of good resources on student loans, how they work, what kind to choose, etc.  Here are a few we find helpful:

A good place to start is the US Department of Education.  Here you will find information on various loan programs, access repayment calculators, and gain information on what to do if you’re having difficulty making payments.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a new government agency that also provides good resources for learning about student loans.

Have a student going off to college?  Now is also a good time to talk about budgeting to keep the student loans to a minimum!