School is back in session, and many parents are breathing a sigh of relief now that their children have returned to the classroom. Caring for children can be especially difficult in the summer if the child is too young to be on their own while the parents are at work, but for divorced parents, the back-to-school season can actually cause more headaches than it resolves. Below, we outline five back-to-school tips for divorced parents.
Communicate with your ex
It may not be ideal, but it’s very important to communicate with your ex so you are both on the same page about your responsibilities. Discuss who will handle driving your kid to and from school, and make sure you discuss any extracurricular activities. If your kid plans on playing a sport after school, make sure you make plans to accommodate for practices, games, or parent meetings.
Communicate with the school
In the event that there is some sort of protective order that does not permit contact between the parents or does not allow contact between the parent and the child, the school should be aware of the no contact order and the terms of the no contact order, in case one parent attempts to violate the order. For example, if mom is not supposed to have contact with the child and she comes to school to pick them up, the school may release the child into that mother’s care if they are unaware of the order.
It is also important to inform the school of your situation so both parents can receive information. If only one parent is listed as a guardian, the school may only mail out progress reports and field trip information to one parent. Let the school know you’ll need two copies each time they mail something out so both parents are kept in the loop.
Communicate with your child
Do you sense a theme here? Talking with your child is another important step in preparing them to return to school. Make sure your child knows which bus he or she needs to ride if they have to go to mom or dad’s place, especially if the buses park in different locations. Make a plan in the event your child misses the bus or gets on the wrong bus, so they aren’t left unsupervised longer than need be. Also, if your child’s teacher is responsible for bus duty, you should mention the situation to the teacher during orientation so they can help ensure your kid gets on the right bus.
Since you’re no longer living with your ex, you might not know if they purchased certain school supplies for your child. Talk to your ex to decide who will be responsible for buying certain items, like supplies, school clothes, and athletic fees. If you plan on splitting everything down the middle, hold onto your receipts so you have a record of the transaction.
If you can obtain a calendar or syllabus from your child’s school, you can plan ahead for any conflicts. Maybe it’s mom’s week to have the child, but your kid needs help from his dad to build a car for shop class. Or your kid has a math final on the 19th and mom is a better tutor. Remember school is not about you – It’s about what is best for your child. You may not want to let the other parent have the child on “your” night, but if it’s in the best interest of your kid, let it slide. Don’t see it as giving in to your ex; see it as being flexible for your child.
Another way that parents can communicate regarding children’s school events is to use a program such as Our Family Wizard or Google Calendar. Both parents can put events on a shared calendar so that all parties are aware of upcoming school events and functions.
Sometimes, schools will allow parents to attend parent-teacher conferences on different nights, rather than attend meetings with the teachers together. This can be beneficial for the parents if the divorce was highly contested, however, it is generally easier for parents to both participate in the same parent-teacher meeting so that they both get the exact same information.
Related source: The Washington Times