Divorce and Co-Parenting During The School Year
Making the transition from summertime fun to a regimented school schedule can be difficult for both children and parents, especially if the parents are divorced. Regardless of how well ex-spouses get along, there will always be hiccups while co-parenting. Younger children can act out and throw tantrums, while older kids may decide to lie to their parents because they are still mad or confused about the divorce. While we have discussed how to successfully co-parent in the past, extra care and attention needs to be given during the transition period between summer and back to school time to ensure that there are few bumps in the road as possible.
If recently divorced, parents should set aside time to discuss their child’s unique situation with school principals, teachers and coaches. There is no need to talk about why you and your spouse filed for divorce, nor do you need to discuss the minute details of the process. This is private information and it is of no concern to the school staff. However, if your child has experienced behavioral changes such as mood swings, angry outbursts, depression or trouble concentrating, then these issues need to be brought to the school’s attention. Such behavioral changes can negatively impact your child’s academic performance, and if teachers and staff are aware of these issues, proper strategies to handle outbursts can be put into place.
A key component to helping children cope with living between two households is to keep daily and weekly schedules consistent. This doesn’t mean Mom and Dad need to plan out every minute of their child’s day, but keeping certain daily tasks or events at the same time (or as close as possible) at each household will help your child adapt to life post-divorce. And this can be incredibly helpful and beneficial when it comes to keeping children on the right track when school starts.
For instance, if Mom lets her son put off his homework till Sunday afternoon; the child will want to do the same at Dad’s house. However, Dad prefers for his son to complete his homework on Friday after school so it is out of the way before the weekend starts. In an attempt to get out of doing his homework on a Friday, the child may get mad at his dad and yell, “But at Mom’s house, I don’t need to do my homework all weekend!” Without realizing it, the child is trying to pin his parents against each other, which can lead to tension, strife, and a decline in the quality of their co-parenting efforts. To avoid this, as well as the risk of parental alienation, the parents need to develop a basic schedule that includes schoolwork and academic activities. Having cohesive rules between households will help the child stay on track, both academically and personally.
There are many cases where divorced parents, despite their best co-parenting efforts, just don’t get along. And that’s fine because sometimes personalities just don’t mesh well. So what are parents to do in this kind of situation while dealing with school related activities? It’s simple: either be adults and learn to act civilly to each other, or decide which parent will participate in which activities and at what times. Perhaps Mom can attend the afternoon session of the science fair, and Dad can make an appearance in the evening? Or maybe one parent will attend weekday soccer games, and the other will cover weekend matches?
Co-parenting during the school year is all about scheduling and compromise. A child will not properly transition from summer into the school year without the cooperation and effort set forth from his or her parents. Just because a former couple is divorced doesn’t mean that one parent can take a backseat in back-to-school planning and schedule enforcement. The co-parenting suggestions discussed here can also be applied throughout the rest of the year, especially during the holiday season.
For more information on co-parenting, or to discuss a pending matrimonial or family law action, contact the law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates, P.C.. The experienced staff is well versed in New York divorce and child custody and visitation cases. With free consultations offered daily, they are eager to advise potential clients on the best course of action to take, and what legal options they have when it comes to divorce and family law matters.