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How to handle a post-divorce graduation with grace

Spring has sprung, and families in Florida and beyond are preparing to celebrate high school graduation. For those who have gone through a high-conflict divorce, graduation day can be a minefield of potential explosions. No matter how contentious one's divorce might have been, graduation day is a time to focus on the accomplishments of a shared child, not to hash out old resentments with one's former spouse or in-laws.  

One of the biggest sources of contention during graduation season involves how the tickets to the ceremony will be distributed. In most cases, the custodial parent will receive a limited number of tickets to the event, and will be able to distribute those tickets as he or she sees fit. When tension exists between former spouses, there is the temptation to retain the majority of those tickets for one's own extended family, and to exclude the other parent or his or her loved ones. This, however, is never a good idea.

Tickets should be handed out according to how many close relatives would like to attend. That means that if one's former mother-in-law wants to travel to the area to attend, she should be given a ticket, even if that means excluding a family friend. By taking the high road and ensuring that family members are accommodated, a great deal of tension surrounding the event can be eliminated.

The same goes for family celebrations after the event itself. The best outcome is reached when both sides of the family can share in the celebrations, but this is not always possible. When a combined party is not an achievable goal, parents should work together to create a schedule that works for both sides, and that also includes plenty of time for the graduate to spend with peers. At the end of the day, parents may commiserate over the fact that most Florida graduates are more interested in spending time with their friends than with either side of their post-divorce family.

Source: Pleasanton, CA Patch, "Your Divorce Is Not Part Of Your Teen's Graduation", Autumn Johnson, May 24, 2015

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