5 Co-Parenting Tips to Make Back to School Easier
For co-parents the beginning of a new school year can be stressful. These five tips can help make it a little less stressful.
Facing back-to-school season as a newly separated couple with children can be challenging. Whichever parent has physical custody often tries to hold all the cards, but unless a custody agreement exists that specifically gives full legal custody to one parent both have equal rights when it comes to important decisions like education.
When you’re new to co-parenting and negative feelings are fresh it can be difficult to work with your ex. However, your child needs you both to put those feelings aside in order for them to thrive in their studies. That stability is what makes separations and divorces easier for children.
Here are a few tips on how to make your first co-parenting school year in Colorado go well.
1. Get on the same page.
You need to discuss every aspect of your child’s education ahead of time, including:
- Where the child will attend school, and who will pay what percentage of any tuition due
- Who is buying what school supplies, school uniforms, or school clothes
- How parent-teacher conferences will work
- How information will be exchanged throughout the year
- Who the child will reside with during the school year
- Pick up and drop off schedules
- Extra-curricular activities, how the costs will be split, and how they will be handled
- Have contingencies in place for emergencies and inclement weather.
A parenting plan outlines all of these details explicitly so that both parents are on the same page. Once you have an official parenting plan, it will dictate how things progress with your child’s education and activities going forward. Mediation can be helpful in creating and enforcing a parenting plan, but you should ultimately each have your own family lawyer in Denver.
2. Split the costs of education 50/50.
When you start talking about costs of school supplies, activities, extra-curriculars, athletics, lunches, and other fees, carefully consider splitting the costs 50/50. Splitting the costs equally is just one way to give each other equal footing on the custody landscape. Of course, if one parent has substantially more income than the other this might be disputed.
3. Meet teachers together and disclose all information.
It can be tempting to schedule separate parent-teacher conferences for each parent, especially when the separation is fresh. Most teachers are open to doing so, as this is actually quite common. However, it isn’t necessarily always what is best for the child.
Meeting teachers together with your child has many benefits for your child’s behavior and development.
- By meeting teachers together with your child you are presenting a united front. This is very important to stress to your children when you first have a divorce. If you do not stand together, your child will be able to play you against each other, increasing hostilities.
- Meeting teachers together ensures that everyone is on the same page. It is an opportunity for both parents and the teacher to discuss together what they have seen regarding behavior, homework, and other school related issues. This makes it easier for problems to be identified and addressed.
- Unless there is a custody agreement specifically stating the contrary, both parents have equal rights to all information regarding your children’s education. It is much easier for that information to be distributed when meeting teachers together. Meeting separately runs the risk that one parent might have information the other does not without even realizing it.
If a parent is not able to attend parent-teacher conferences and other meetings, the parent that does attend needs to be prepared to provide that information. You should plan ahead of time how this will be handled.
4. Use a shared family calendar app like Cozi.
Shared calendar apps like Cozi or Google Calendar are great for keeping everyone in the loop. A shared calendar will be most effective when any activity or event that affects the child and their activities is noted. At minimum, the shared calendar should include all of your child’s activities, due dates for any related fees, pick up and drop off schedule, and visitation schedule. You can even share the calendar with your child so that they can stay in the loop.
Parents might also include their work schedules if it is important to scheduling other activities for the child. Other items that could be included in the shared calendar include non-academic related clubs, doctor’s appointments, and vacations the child takes without one or both parents.
5. Keep discussions about back to school parenting private.
Most importantly of all of these tips, talk about back-to-school coparenting in private. Your child should not be part of these discussions. Even if you are able to talk about these things without flared tempers, having your child present prompts them to interject their own desires, which can muddy the waters more than necessary.
Why You Need a Family Lawyer in Denver When You Can’t Agree
Both parents have equal custody and must determine how co-parenting will work on their own unless one or both of them petitions for a custody agreement. A legal parenting agreement is important for ensuring that both parents maintain all of their rights when it comes to the child. If you have questions regarding how this upcoming school year will affect your custody agreement, contact one of our family lawyers and they’d be happy to help.