Will you or your spouse file for divorce in August? Have you taken into consideration what an August divorce means for your child as they transition into a new school year?
Let’s take a look at August divorce and what parents who file for divorce in August can do to help their child succeed in school during their parent’s divorce
What do August and March have in common? In most parts of the United States, the two months don’t even have similar climates, so your answer might understandably be “nothing much.” But according to a study conducted at the University of Washington, Americans file for divorce in August and March more often than any other months.
The study analyzed all of the divorce filings in Washington from November 2001 to December 2015; the state has pretty open divorce laws, which made it easy for the researchers to gather the data. What they found was a clear peak in both August and March and a dramatic drop as the year wound to an end, especially in November and December.
While the numbers are certainly intriguing, they mean very little to researchers until the “why” behind them is answered. But, I think I’ve come up with a few answers to the why. See below.
4 Reasons Parents File For Divorce In August
1. Too Much Time Together
Nothing can put more stress on an already bad marriage than summer vacations and long holiday weekends. If you didn’t like your spouse in April, you’re going to like them even less in August. Hence, just one of the reasons parents file for divorce in August.
2. Fall Routines
One of the biggest reason people file for divorce in August is due to the children’s schedules. Once school is back in session, a regular routine is put into motion that helps kids adjust and cope with a divorce. This is also helpful for parents who need to meet with a mediator during school hours to get the necessary paperwork completed. With the routine and distraction of school, children tend to handle the news of a divorce much better.
3. Time Before the Holidays
The hardest part of going through a divorce is that first holiday apart from your ex-spouse. In August you have a few months to figure out a holiday plan for your family and process the loss of your marriage before you are bombarded with imagery of happy families and joyous get-togethers.
4. Timing for Taxes
In California, if you file for divorce, you are required to have a six-month cooling off period before the dissolution is final. This works nicely with end-of-year taxes, so you can still file jointly together as married if you wish. However, if you want to file separately, that may be an option as well. Talk with our Certified Divorce Financial Analysts, and we can help you determine your options and the financial implications of each.
5 Tips For Supporting Your Child And Their Back To School Routine if You File for Divorce In August:
If you file for divorce in August after a long summer of less than marital bliss keep in mind that your children are headed back to school at the same time their family is coming apart. For that reason, I’ve put together a few tips to help you help your child adjust to their new school year as the child of divorcing parents.
1. Listen to Your Children’s Concerns
This will be their first school year since the divorce, so things are bound to feel different for them. Don’t discourage them from venting. Instead, let the kids open up to you whenever they feel they need to. Listen to their worries and ask open-ended questions that encourage them to talk further. Always show an interest in how their day went, and remind them that whenever they feel uncertain or afraid, you are there to listen.
2. Create a Comfortable Routine
The importance of routine cannot be emphasized enough. Try to cultivate and maintain a predictable school routine that the children can rely on. You will want to talk with them and your former spouse about school bus schedules, what to do if any of the kids become ill at school, and what the pick-up and drop-off routines will be if they enroll in after-school activities. Having answers to these questions can decrease their anxiety by eliminating unpredictability as much as possible.
3. Develop an Effective Way to Communicate with your Ex
There are a lot more logistics to manage with children once the school year starts, and logistics usually requires communication. Talk with your former spouse to determine a way to share calendars (there are helpful online tools available for this) and remember how important it is for the kids to see both of their parents at important school events, concerts, and extracurricular activities.
Talk with your ex as best you can about how key school-related issues like parent-teacher conferences, field trips, and prom will be handled, and remember that consistency is usually best for children when it comes to expectations like grades, driver’s ed, school night curfews, etc.
4. Meet Your Children’s Teachers, Coaches, and other Trusted Adults
Your children’s teachers are there to help, so don’t feel compelled to hide your recent divorce or separation from them. Even if the kids don’t tell them first, they will certainly notice if there are any post-divorce struggles like depression, impaired classroom performance, or acting out. Ideally, you and the other parent should meet with the teachers to discuss the situation and create a communication plan if adjustment problems do end up surfacing.
5. Keep School a Safe Place
During a divorce, and immediately after, there is a lot of uncertainty for children at home. So they often turn to school to be a stable and safe place for them to socialize and concentrate on things other than their parent’s divorce. Children, particularly older children, derive a lot of support and identity from their peer group. So it’s important to remember not to let negative feelings, arguments, or miscommunications with your ex play out at your child’s school, or in front of his/her friends.
Your friends, family, and even your children’s teachers all have vital roles to play in helping your kids adjust. Let them help. And above all, keep listening to your children. It is important for them to know that when they need to be heard, you are there.