Back to school can be an exciting time for your child — and it can also be a stressful time for parents who are divorced or separated. Families may need to adjust to new schedules and make a few changes to the details in their parenting plans. While every situation is different, there are a few things co-parents can do to make the back to school transition easier. By establishing routines and expectations in advance, co-parents can create consistency and help ensure a smooth year ahead.
Here are five back to school co-parenting tips to keep in mind:
1. Consider Sharing Back to School Shopping Duties
Back to school shopping can be costly and time-consuming. Co-parents should coordinate who will be purchasing what, regardless of your child support agreement. Set a budget and discuss the items your child needs, such as school supplies, clothing, or a new backpack. Importantly, back to school shopping should not only be a shared financial responsibility — it can also be a great way to create memories with your child, and both parents should be able to take part.
2. Have a School Year Parenting Time Schedule in Place
The parenting time schedule for the school year may look very different from the summer schedule. Co-parents should have a schedule in place that takes each of their work schedules as well as the child’s academic obligations and extracurricular activities into consideration. While it’s essential to be flexible, an agreed-upon schedule can help parents understand what is expected of them — and your child can benefit from the stability it provides.
3. Coordinate Transportation Needs
The start of a new school year can mean implementing a new transportation arrangement into your parenting plan. It’s crucial to outline who will be dropping the child off at school or extracurricular activities and picking them up. Both parents should also know the bus or carpool schedule, if applicable. In addition, co-parents should have a transportation plan for half-days and in the event the child is sick and needs to leave school early.
4. Communicate with Your Co-Parent
Even if you don’t get along with your co-parent, communication is key to a successful co-parenting relationship. Create a communication system that allows both parents to be on the same page about school events, homework, grades, and other matters concerning your child. If it’s not possible to speak over the phone without arguing, you might consider using text messages or email to communicate. In contentious cases, it may be beneficial to use a co-parenting app to stay organized, share documents, manage appointments, and make any necessary updates to the calendar.
5. Put the Best Interests of Your Child First
Whether you are amicable with your co-parent or not, it’s critical to put the best interests of your child first. For instance, if both parents cannot be there to share the child’s first day of school, have a plan in place that allows the other parent to participate by FaceTime. Both parents should strive to attend any school concerts, plays, sports games, or other events — even if they do not sit together. Set aside any conflicts you may have with your co-parent to give your child the attention and support they need.
Contact an Experienced New York Family Law Attorney
Child custody matters can be overwhelming. If you are facing a child custody or parenting time issue, it’s vital to have a compassionate and experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the legal process and help ensure the best possible outcome is achieved. The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP has been providing knowledgeable counsel for divorce and family law matters for more than 70 years. Call (212) 425-1999 to schedule a consultation or contact us today.