Back-To-School Tips for Divorcing or Divorced Parents

It's back to school time and for divorced parents the transition from summer to fall can be extremely difficult. Preparing children for school from two different households presents unique challenges such as:

  • Who will pay for school costs?
  • Which parent does the school contact if there is a problem?
  • Who will chaperone the field trips or volunteer in the classroom?
  • What school activities will the children be involved in?

To overcome these challenges, parents need to work together and become effective co-parents. Here are some tips to make back to school time easier for divorced parents and their children.

  • Use a Calendar at Home. Posting a calendar in your home that your children can see, helps your children know where they are going and also shows them that you know what is going on in their lives. The calendar should indicate the parenting access schedule as well as note all school activities and field trips.
  • Share a Calendar With the Other Parent. Co-parents are encouraged to share an online calendar where they can post school activities, field trips, extracurricular activities, school conferences, medical appointments and other important dates for their children. This allows both parents to know about all of the children's events. It also keeps the children from being messengers between their parents.
  • Keep the School Informed. Parents should inform the school about the divorce and the current parenting schedule. Parents can request that they both be contacted in emergencies and that they receive separate notifications about their children's issues and activities.
  • Help Your Child With Homework and Projects. Both parents need to take active roles in their children's education by helping and encouraging them with their homework. Parents also need to communica te with each other about the status of homework and all known due dates.
  • Attend School Events. Both parents should attend school events like "back-to-school" nights and parent-teacher conferences. It is important for children to see both their parents at these significant events.

Focus on Your Child, Not the Divorce.

The biggest thing to remember is that your child needs both parents and wants to know that both parents care. It is necessary to act civilly towards your ex, or soon to be ex, to show your child that you both support him or her. Remembering this and following these tips will make the school year go smoother for everyone - especially your child.

Of course, all of this advice assumes a custody arrangement where both parents have legal rights to access their children and their children's educational and medical information. Back-to-school challenges will of course be different in families where one parent does not have legal or physical custody.

Any parent with questions about parental rights, custody or visitation should consult an experienced family law attorney.

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