For parents anticipating a divorce and child custody (allocation) issues, it’s always useful to go over some checklists, both financial and child-related, to ensure that the needs of the parties and families are met as best as is possible during the pendency of the case. Once a divorce or separation commences, it can be uncomfortable talking with the school or sports teams about the divorce, but it can be helpful and supportive to the minor children when teachers and coaches are aware of possible changes in the child’s behaviors or affect or emotional health.
CHECKLIST FOR DIVORCING AND DIVORCED PARENTS
1. As soon as possible, inform the school of a divorce so that school personnel can be made aware of your child’s emotional support needs.
2. Clarify whether or not you wish information about the family situation to be disseminated to teachers. Make it clear that while you wish school personnel to be on the lookout for
problems, you do not want teachers to look for problems or treat your child differently.
3. Ask to be contacted if a teacher observes any changes in behavior or any problems.
4. If your child is in elementary school, you may want to discuss options for classroom placement, stressing the personal qualities of the teacher in meeting your child’s specific
5. If a teacher reports behavior such as bullying, attention seeking, stealing, regression, restlessness, daydreaming, or fantasizing, remember that these behaviors often represent
attempts by the child to cope with and master psychological pain. Try to see these behaviors as ways you can be of help (or, if the behavior(s) continues too long, seek other help for your
6. Cutting classes and truancy are common signs of distress to which school personnel may alert you.
Facing normal everyday expectations is sometimes very difficult for children under stress. Work with your child and the school counselor to confront and solve the problem. Know that
options exist (e.g. weekly academic progress reports, daily attendance checks, etc.) within the framework of the school structure to provide you with information and your child with extra
support during this period of adjustment.
7. Reading can often ease the burden of painful feelings as well as provide healthy strategies for coping with a crisis. Reading a book with your child can provide an excellent opportunity for
discussions. The librarian in your child’s school or at the public library can suggest appropriate books.
8. Each parent has the right to be informed of his or her child’s progress in school, unless a court order prohibits release of this information. According to the research, having
two interested parents improves a child’s school achievement as well as general adjustment.
9. While school personnel can provide helpful objective information to both parents, they also worry about becoming “middlemen” in situations where communication between ex-spouses
is poor. For school personnel to be most effective, try to keep them out of the middle.
Adapted from Helping Children of Divorce: A Handbook for Parents & Teachers.