Summer is often a stress-free and flexible time of the year for parents who are co-parenting children following a separation and divorce. The start of the school year can bring up problems that require attention and planning, especially if you want to successfully navigate the upcoming school year together. Even for parents that work well together, back to school usually brings its own set of unique struggles to address. Whether you are working on putting an agreement in writing, or looking to your Separation Agreement or Order for answers, here are some common topics that you should think about as you prepare for the school year.
Transportation and Exchange Times
One issue that seems like it should have an easy answer is, “Who picks the children up, and when?” Balancing school, holidays, and after-school activities can make this co-parenting dilemma even more complicated. Will the children be picked up directly from school? What about teacher workdays? Who is taking them to which after-school activity, and picking them up? Each family is unique, and your Agreement or Order should reflect that. While the terms should be clear, and may eliminate some gray areas, a helpful hint can be sharing an electronic calendar, such as Google calendar, with the other parent so you both are clear about where the children are and who has what responsibilities.
Who pays for things like school supplies, lunches, tutoring, and activity fees? Sometimes children have specific needs which may require consideration beyond just the basic guideline child support, and that might not ordinarily be required under basic child support. When each parent spends equal time with the children, it might be expected that both parties share in expenses. Without a clear understanding, one parent may be left paying for all of the expenses for the children’s back to school needs.
Sharing of Information
It’s a good idea to think about what school-related information is important to you and make sure it is included in your Agreement or Order. How will you know when there is a test or a project due? What about when your child is running a fever? In the absence of rules for the sharing of school information, it’s advisable to make sure both parents are listed as contacts on school emergency forms and to share important information that the other parent might not have received. If you feel left out of your children’s education, try contacting teachers and staff to request they include both parents on communications and other information regarding the children. You may even want to bring self-addressed stamped envelopes to the school for any materials that may not be available online.
A+ for Co-Parenting
Everyone wants to get an “A+” on being prepared for the school year. Make sure you are thinking about these important obstacles as your children head back to school, and take steps to make sure you, and your children, have an amazing school year!
If you have questions, contact Sodoma Law today at 704.442.000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org