When the dust finally settles on your divorce, there will still be the children. As they return to school (perhaps a brand new one), they will be facing new challenges. Even though they are no longer married, Mom and Dad must still present a need to set up a system of communication that keeps everyone informed.
Communication is Key
After a divorce, parents need to work at co-parenting. They no longer live together; perhaps they are not speaking to each other. However, sharing information regarding the children is critical.
Regardless of how the parents feel about each other, the children must remain their number one priority.
Thanks to modern technology, parents can share one calendar regarding their children’s activities, school schedules, medical information, etc. This allows both parties (and the children, as well) to have the latest information (math test due Friday!) at their fingertips.
When using a shared online calendar, parents can keep track of:
- Medical appointments
- Extracurricular practices
- School events, homework, tests, etc.
- The beginning of a new school year usually means new supplies, clothes, sports equipment, the cost of school outings, etc. The child support agreement usually spells out who has responsibility for these expenses, but these may exceed the amount of child support agreed upon. Co-parents need to discuss how to purchase everything the children need.
- The first day of a new school year can be trying. That is especially the case when the child faces a new school, new classmates, and new teachers. Parents need to put their differences aside and arrange for both to take the child to school and drop him or her off. This is one of the events that should be listed on the online calendar in plenty of time.
- The children may be living in two homes, but it helps them considerably if both parents can agree on certain rules, i.e., whether homework or play takes precedence, should homework be finished before dinnertime, etc. Do parents help with the homework or not? Creating a smooth transition to both homes is the responsibility of both parents, not just one of them.
For example, a non-custodial parent may have a child for the weekend just before a huge paper is due. Does the parent take the child to the zoo, as planned, or does he or she insist the paper is more important? Parents can communicate these particulars over the online schedule. Note that the child should experience the least number of disruptions from what he or she is used to.
- Most children keep their school life in their backpacks. Parents need to be careful that all contents of a backpack make it back and forth between the two homes. The online schedule can message, “She needs to finish ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Tuesday, so make sure you return it in her backpack Sunday evening.”
- Parent-teacher conferences are a staple of school life. Both parents should arrange their schedules to be able to attend as one parental unit and ensure that the school has both on its mailing list. If the children’s address has changed, the school should be aware of that.
- It is generous to keep the former in-laws up to date. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles can even be added to the online schedule. You divorced their son or daughter, but the children did not divorce their grandparents.
The beginning of a new school year involves a lot of decisions for parents, including which school the children should be attending. Divorce doesn’t change that. Both ex-partners need to get together and agree on the fundamentals about the children and their schedules, what is expected of them, etc.
It’s okay for parents to have different expectations. One party may insist on a rigorous study plan while the other insists that sports and other extra-curriculars are equally important. Like a married couple, they should discuss their differences and arrive at suitable compromises. Good parenting does not stop at the divorce court.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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