What Are Back-to-School Custody Tips for Divorced Parents?
As the summer season ends, families and communities across the country are gearing up for another exciting school year. However, some families may find back-to-school time overwhelming and stressful, especially if the parents share custody of their children or there is a recently new separation in the family. Those parents need to take extra steps before and during the school year to keep a positive environment for themselves and their children.
The most vital part of maintaining a positive outlook for children of a divorced marriage is to have good communication within the family and the school. It starts with the co-parents. Maintaining open lines of communication – simply by letting each other know about schedule changes or school updates – can go a long way in making family matters less stressful. Matters such as school activities and homework should be discussed as soon as possible and often, which will help both parents stay on the same page.
Here are some more tips to help you and your co-parent make the back-to-school transition smoothly:
- Communicate with the school: Stay in communication with your child’s school. Let them know who is responsible for picking up and dropping off beforehand so that the school is aware of any changes and can avoid any preventable confusion. Communicate with the school about the situation between yourself and your ex-spouse, especially if it is a recent separation. If they know what is going on at home, your child’s teachers can stay aware of any behavioral changes in your child. Parental separation is tough for a child, and their feelings, if not properly attended to, can lead to poor academic progress.
- Pay attention to your child’s needs: The beginning of the school year may mean a bigger workload for your child, so pay attention to what they are working on and if they need you and your co-parents help. Checking in with your child about how they are feeling throughout the school year can help you gauge how it is affecting them and interacting with their stresses at school. Paying attention to them and their needs can reassure them that you love them and are there for them through the divorce.
- Know the teachers: To keep in good standing with the school, it is best to know who to speak to should an issue arise and who is going to be teaching your child. As well as knowing the name of your child’s teachers and the principal, they should know you as well. Do not rely on your ex-spouse to know school information about your child; it is best to go to the source by calling the school and asking questions yourself.
- Help your child answer their peers: If the divorce occurred over the summer break or was recent, your child may face questions about your family situation from their peers. Before school starts, plan how they could face such questions and assure them that it is okay to decline to answer if they feel uncomfortable. You can go over with them what kind of answers would make them feel comfortable. Let them know it is okay to feel whatever the divorce makes them feel, whether it be anger, confusion, sadness, or fearful.
- Remain flexible: Make things easier for yourself, your ex-spouse, and your family by remaining flexible with your schedule. The beginning of the school year can be frustrating for you and your ex-spouse as you try to organize pick up and drop off arrangements, so be willing to keep your schedule open. Remember that you and your ex-spouse are working towards the same goal of keeping your child comfortable and stress-free.
- School costs: As your child grows, so does their needs and the costs to meet those needs. School supplies and costs likely go up every year, so it is important that you and your ex-spouse plan on who will be covering what. Back-to-school costs can range from anything to notebooks, textbooks, calculators, backpacks, and laptops. They can also include things like teacher gifts, field trips, and admission fees, so you and your ex-spouse need to be prepared on who will take care of what cost, as not doing so will create confusion and stress.
- Extracurricular activities: If your child is attending extracurricular activities like sports or clubs, you should prep for the cost and activity’s schedule by gathering estimates together and calculating their costs. A support order may be needed if you have any trouble splitting the costs of the activity, or you can consult with a family law lawyer to help you understand what to do next.
- Emergency custody plan: It is important to be prepared should a health emergency occur with your child, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic is still an issue. Parents should discuss the plan should your child get sick, and how that affects the parenting schedule, pick-up times, homework schedule, etc.
- Allow your child time to process emotions: Experts say that it generally takes a year for a child to come to terms with a divorce. Having passed that year date that does not mean they are no longer upset, rather that they just are more accustomed to the new situation and feelings. Assure your child that you are there for them and try to make them feel comfortable sharing their emotions with you, long after the divorce.
Marlton Divorce Lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Help Parents with Custody Issues
Back-to-school is a stressful time of year for both you, your ex-spouse, and your child, but it does not have to be. Proper planning and scheduling can go a long way in making the school year go smoothly. If you are having custody issues with your ex-spouse, the Marlton divorce lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. can help you immediately. Call us today at 856-890-9400 or fill out our online form for an initial consultation. With our offices located in Marlton, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in Marlton, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and throughout South Jersey.