Back-to-school time can be chaotic and it can be even more stressful for parents who are divorced or separated. Suddenly, responsibilities for paying for new school clothes and book fees are blurred. You may be wondering who will pick up the kids from school or buy the school supplies. Here are three key tips to get you both on track and help you avoid conflicts as your kids head back to school:
Sit down and talk
If possible, sit down with your ex and discuss issues that either have come up or may come up. Having a discussion sooner rather than later will help you avoid arguments and confusion down the road. Talk about who will be financially responsible for your child’s school uniforms or school supplies. Discuss a pick-up and drop off plan that works for everyone’s schedules come the fall. If your parenting time schedule must change, get the schedule down in writing, so no one, especially your children, become confused about their schedule. Be sure that you cover details such as responsibility for homework and school lunches, when your child is with you or your other parent. And, be reasonable. Demanding money or hurling accusations will lead to a fight and will resolve nothing. If you simply cannot come to an agreement, consider going to a mediator to help facilitate conversation and negotiation between the two of you.
Don’t involve the kids
Even if you and your child’s other parent are in a battle, do not involve your children in the fight. Don’t discuss details about your issues with your children or ask their opinion about adult problems. It is never a good idea to badmouth your child’s other parent or to tell your child information such as your exes’ refusal to contribute to tuition. Even if you are not intentionally trying to alienate your children from your ex, discussing your problems with them will eventually take its toll and lead to an erosion of their relationship. Keep your emotions in check and deal with your ex directly, and not in the presence of your children. If you feel your ex is discussing your adult issues with your children or purposefully alienating your kids from you, seek the advice of an attorney.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
When the new school year gets underway, something is bound to fall through the cracks. Maybe your ex forgot it was her day to pick the kids up from aftercare. Perhaps your child’s other parent forgot to pack their lunch after his overnight parenting time on Wednesday. These things crop up for families who are all living in the same home and they are not the end of the world. While they may be frustrating, these little hiccups are no reason to begin a war with your ex and they are certainly no reason to be running to court. Take a step back and a deep breath and realize this is a transition for everyone, especially if this is your kid’s first back-to-school time without you and your ex being together.
Always remember that change can be hard on everyone and it can be especially challenging for children. Your kids may be just getting used to their parents living apart. Back-to-school time can be stressful for anyone so keep a positive attitude and encourage your children. They will thank you for your efforts to make this a smooth transition for everyone.
Need more tips? Read Bari Weinberger’s Huffington Post blog: Back to School: 3 Ways To Tell If Your Child Custody Agreement Is The Right Fit
If you have questions about parenting time or custody as kids head back to school, contact our office to schedule your free and confidential consultation with one of our compassionate and experienced family law attorneys. Secure your future. Call us today: (888) 888-0919.