Getting Back to School Ready: Tips for Co-Parents

Setting Yourself Up for Success

Back to school season can be an exciting yet hectic time for all families, but it can be especially challenging for divorced families. Not only do you need to help your child get ready for the upcoming year, but you and your co-parent will need to coordinate with each other to ensure that all your child's needs are met. You may also be dealing with additional outside stressors, such as a new school, new teachers, and an entirely new schedule.

Keep reading for three tips on preparing for the school year.

Tip #1: Schedule Time for Planning

The key to a smooth transition from summer break to the new school year is planning ahead. Schedule some time to meet or talk with your co-parent to go over everything that needs to happen to get your child ready for the new year. Before this meeting, you should collect all pertinent information regarding your child's needs and share them with your co-parent, including their class schedule, required books and supplies, and any information you have about their chosen extracurricular activities.

Examples of things to discuss with your co-parent prior to the start of the new year include:

  • Does your child need new clothes?
  • Are parents responsible for purchasing supplies and books?
  • Will your child be taking their lunch to school every day or participating in a school lunch program?
  • What extracurricular activities will your child participate in, and who is responsible for signing them up for those activities
  • Who is responsible for taking your child to school in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon?
  • Does your child need after-school care?
  • How do your child's class and extracurricular schedule impact your current visitation schedule?

Getting your child ready for the school year can feel overwhelming, especially when you have to coordinate with your co-parent. By scheduling some time to go over these things in advance, you can feel more prepared and address potential issues before any problems arise.

Tip #2: Create a Shared Calendar

One of the most challenging aspects of adjusting to a new school year is adjusting to the new schedule. Creating a shared calendar can help everyone stay on the same page and know what is happening and when. Co-parents can use a shared calendar to facilitate many things, including noting when important homework assignments are due, keeping track of practice schedules, or times and locations for important events. Shared calendars can also be used to help co-parents keep track of who is responsible for what, including daily school pick up and drop off.

Tip #3: Make Sure the School Has Both Parents' Contact Information

Before the school year starts, it is important to confirm that the school has both parents' contact information and that they know how and when to reach each parent. Often schools have newsletters or send important communications to parents via email (such as report cards). Ensuring that both parents' email addresses are registered with the school can help both parents stay in the loop with what's going on at their child's school.

Relatedly, you may also wish to have a designated folder that passes between the parents to ensure that important documents and other paperwork isn't lost and both parents stay informed. It is not uncommon for teachers and the school, in general, to send important information home with children. While this can be a good system, when a child's parents are divorced and not living in the same home, it can result in confusion if both parents do not have access to these important documents. Having a physical file that gets passed between parents as the child moves between households can be helpful. Furthermore, parents may wish to scan and upload all paperwork sent home with their child to a shared online drive.

Tip #4: Make Sure Your Current Visitation Schedule Is Still Appropriate

As your children grow up, your initial visitation schedule may require adjustments to meet the changing needs of your children and your family. As the years go by, children change schools, parents get new jobs, and one or both parents may relocate to different areas. All of these changes can necessitate a need to change the current visitation schedule. For example, if the child starts going to a new school with a new start time, one parent may struggle to take them to and from school on certain days. Even if the parents maintain the same custody split, they may need to adjust which days the child is with each parent.

In some cases, you and your co-parent may work out these scheduling issues among yourselves. Still, if the changes in circumstances are significant enough, you may need to petition for an official modification to your custody schedule with the courts. An example of this would be if one parent has to take a new job in a different town and, to avoid disrupting the child's schooling, the child will need to stay with the other parent more.

If you need help modifying a custody agreement, parenting plan, or visitation schedule, reach out to Burch Shepard Family Law Group for guidance. Our experienced attorneys have worked with countless families in Orange County, and we can use our experience to help you with your situation. Send us a message online to schedule an appointment today.