The summer goes by so fast, and before you know it, it’s time for the kids to head back to school. This means it’s time to think about things like back-to-school shopping, choosing extracurricular activities, figuring out transportation, considering holidays to come, to name a few. For families where divorce is involved, proactive co-parenting is a must. At McCart and Tesmer, we have a great deal of experience in Family Law and have seen some clever tactics to provide a much smoother school year for both parents and the children.
Here are the things we suggest for the most successful back-to-school proactive co-parenting.
- Review Your Parenting Agreement. Assuming you already have a parenting agreement in place, reviewing it before the school year begins allows parents to look ahead and prepare for things like upcoming travel and school holidays. A fresh set of eyes on your agreement can also reveal any missing contacts for childcare or emergencies. This review is also a great time to make any adjustments to the Agreement if necessary (with the help of your lawyer(s)) to avoid scheduling conflicts in the coming school year. It is also a great time to decide on transportation for extracurricular activities and the pickup and drop-off duties to come. If you don’t yet have a Parenting Plan in place, click here to get a free template.
- Let Technology Help! Consider using an app designed to help divorced parents communicate better. OurFamilyWizard is one of our favorites, and it was created by a divorced couple who understood there was a need for a tool to help co-parent as smoothly as possible. The application allows each parent to have their account, and then they can add in other users such as therapists, lawyers, and extended family. Helpful apps for divorced parents usually feature a shared calendar. This comes in handy for both parents to see what is upcoming and communicate directly through the app to avoid confusion.
- Create One Email Per Child. This one might sound strange, but it works! Proactively create a specific email for your child to give to the school for all communication. Both parents have access to this email address for full transparency. A single email streamlines communication between parents and the school regarding essential things like announcements, report cards, parent-teacher conferences, events, etc.
- Discuss School Supplies. In Florida, things directly relating to a child’s education (book, uniforms, pencils, etc.) should be covered by child support. Agreeing about needs, budget, and shopping for and paying for school supplies BEFORE school starts can help avoid unnecessary conflict in an already stressful time. For the sake of record-keeping, it is recommended that the parent paying for the supplies buys the specific supplies rather than sending money to the other parent.
- When Possible, Attend Parent-Teacher Conferences Together. Being a united front as co-parents is especially important for the education of the child or children. Attending meetings like this together makes it easier for the teachers by showing that both parents are committed to supporting the child’s education. Of course, there are cases where having parent-teacher conferences together is not possible. In those cases, it is essential to utilize most if not all of the tips here to ensure communication is evident between the teacher and parents.
- When Conflicts Arise, And They Will, Put The Child’s Interest First. Every divorce has its share of conflict, or both parties wouldn’t be divorced. That said, it is crucial for both parents to always come back to the common goal: your child’s health and happiness. The decisions you make should have the child’s interest at the forefront, and any conflict between the parents should be secondary. Be aware of how you speak to the other parent in front of the child; disagreements can wait until they aren’t around. Remember, you are shaping our future through your children, so be sure to give them the best chance by working WITH your co-parent.
Hopefully, this list of tips and tricks will help you as you enter another school year. Even though the marriage didn’t work out, it is possible to provide an incredible school experience for your kiddo. The lawyers at McCart and Tesmer can help you sort out many of the complexities of your divorce, from custody to parenting plans and everything in between. They can help you find ways to ease the discomfort of the divorce by providing the knowledge and tools necessary for the co-parenting journey. Proactive co-parenting not only works, but it can make all the difference in the world by avoiding the unnecessary and planning for the future together.