Co-parenting can be difficult for parents who are married. However, when parents divorce, co-parenting can become more of a challenge. Children have two “homes” that might have two sets of rules. During the school year, a child can suffer if parents are not able to work together to provide stability and support. Working with an experienced Michigan child custody attorney to develop a parenting plan that provides structure and continuity for a child can be extremely beneficial for the child and the parents.
Seven Tips for Co-Parenting During the School Year
The first school year after a divorce can be difficult for the entire family. Parents are working out the details of co-parenting, and children may still be adjusting to the divorce and new schedules. Parents who work together to find practical solutions to issues that might arise during the school year can reduce stress and frustration for all parties.
Tips for co-parenting during the school year include:
1. Talk to Your Child's Teacher
Let your child's teacher know that you are divorced and you both desire to receive copies of all communication from the teacher and the school. Provide the teacher and the school office an email address for each parent and request that both parents are copied on all emails and other communications. Also, agree with your ex-spouse to copy each other with all communications sent to the school or teacher.
2. Attend Parent-Teacher Conferences Together
Whenever possible, attend all school meetings and teacher conferences together. It is best for the child when parents can communicate about school. However, for parents who are not on good terms, the parent who is unable to attend the meeting can request a written summary from the teacher.
3. Create a Shared Calendar for Your Child
Several calendar programs allow parents to create a shared calendar for their children. With a shared calendar, both parents can access their child's schedule for extra-curricular activities, sports, school programs, meetings, project deadlines, and other information that can help parents manage school-related functions.
4. Shop for School Supplies and Clothing Together
Whenever possible, take your child shopping for school supplies and clothing together to prevent duplications. If you do not get along with your ex-spouse or cannot find a time that is convenient for both of you, communicate with each other regarding which parent is responsible for purchasing supplies and clothing. Your child may be anxious about starting a new school year after a divorce. Shopping with both parents may help a child realize that both parents are still involved and active in the child's daily life.
5. Help Your Child Know What to Say
There may be questions about divorce when school begins. Discuss with your child how to handle questions about the divorce with teachers and friends. In many cases, simple and direct comments are all that is necessary. Also, let your child know that it is okay to reply to questions about the divorce by saying, “Thank you for asking, but I just don't want to talk about it yet.”
6. Set the Same Standards and Rules for School in Both Homes
Discuss how you want to handle homework, afternoons, bedtimes, and other matters on school nights. The rules for doing homework and going to bed should be the same in both homes. There will be times when the schedule might change, but following the same rules in each home can reduce friction and maintain consistency.
7. Seek Help When Necessary
If you find that you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on matters related to your child's education, don't hesitate to seek counseling or mediation to work through the problem. Co-parenting during a school year can be challenging. Schedules, expenses, homework, sick days, holidays, and other issues can create friction between parents. However, a child's education is important. If you and your child's other parent are having issues, make it a priority to work through those issues, with help if necessary, to ensure your child receives the support and guidance he or she needs to succeed in school.
Contact a Michigan Divorce Attorney for Help
One way to successfully co-parent during the school year is to develop a detailed parenting plan that both parents can follow. Contact Michigan divorce attorney Cameron C. Goulding today to discuss ways you can protect your child's best interests during a divorce.