Back to School: 5 Tips for Co-Parenting
Back to school comes with a lot of nerves and excitement for children and families. For parents who
After a divorce, working with your child’s other parent may be uncomfortable to say the least. But making the effort to cooperate with your co-parent and your child’s school set-up can make things easier for everyone. That’s especially true now, with emerging strains of COVID-19, and now Monkeypox concerns clouding parents’ vision of the 2022-2023 school year.
We know it can be hard to get on the same page with your ex. We also know that you want what’s best for your children—and that means being able to communicate effectively with each other in order to ensure they get the education they deserve.
Here’s what you should know about co-parenting this fall and a couple of tips to help you prepare for your child’s 2022-2023 school year.
Share Obligations for Back to School Shopping
As the school year approaches, it’s important to remember that back-to-school shopping is a shared responsibility. Shopping for materials and supplies can be costly, especially if you’re buying them for more than one child. While many parents are happy to help their children pick out new clothes and supplies, others may not be as excited about the process of buying “boring” mandatory necessities. Make a clear plan of who is buying what, and when, to ensure your child doesn’t miss out on those soccer boots or rucksack (plus you’ll avoid duplication of expenses).
Keep a Predictable Parenting Time Schedule
parenting time schedule can be an emotional law topic and should have been set during your divorce proceedings. If this is not the case, it’s important for parent-child relationships to have consistency in their schedule, and therefore you need to set one immediately. Creating a
For parents, it helps both people keep track of the child’s activities. For children, it helps give them a sense of routine, security, and certainty that is an important part of healthy child development.
Inform Your Child’s School of Your Co-Parenting Arrangements
When your kids start a new school year, it’s important to make sure that the school knows who they should talk to in case of emergencies. And even more importantly, who they should release your children to after school.
At the start of each school year, provide the principal at your children’s school with a copy of your child custody and parenting time order. This is especially true if your custody/parenting time order has been modified over the past year, or if your kids have changed schools. This includes children who are graduating from elementary to middle or from middle to high school. This will put the school on notice about who they should talk to in case of emergencies, and who to release your children to after school to avoid conflict.
Coordinate Events with Your Co-Parent
It can be difficult to attend school functions when you’re divorced. Your co-parent may not want you to go, or they might want you to attend but won’t be there themselves. If this is the case, make sure your child knows who will be attending without making it seem like the non-attending parent didn’t want to go.
Sporting events, class plays and class graduations are all important to your child and their development. They will ultimately suffer if you end up clashing at these important milestones. For their sake, try to cooperate with one another to attend school events together as a show of unity and support. If that isn’t a possibility, make sure your child knows who will be attending so they’re not on the lookout for ultimate disappointment.
Set Expectations and Remember Your Priorities
The first few weeks of school can be a bit chaotic. It’s important to remember that it’s not just your child who is adjusting to new teachers, new classrooms, and new classmates—you are too!
When you and your co-parent are starting back-to-school planning, make sure you’re both on the same page. Back-to-school time opens a door for conflict, but conflict results in the child/children suffering.
You and your co-parent need to know what is expected of each other. Who is going to help with homework? Who will take your child to football practice? Maybe mom helps one child and dad is responsible for helping the other. Maybe you take it in weekly or biweekly turns. There is no right answer, but whatever arrangement you and your co-parent decide upon should be detailed in your parenting plan to eliminate confusion in the future.
Allocation of Parental Responsibilities
If you STILL cannot come to a civil agreement on parenting time, Allocation of Parental Responsibilities is an actionable step to set a new plan in place.
There are three basic types of child allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois — joint allocation of parental responsibilities, sole allocation of parental responsibilities and shared allocation of parental responsibilities:
Joint allocation of parental responsibilities requires parents to cooperate in decision-making regarding your child’s education and schooling matters, (amongst other decisions such as health care and religious instruction). It does not mean that the children live with each parent for an equal amount of time. The parties will agree or the court will assign a residential parent. The non-residential parent will pay child support and exercise parenting time. The amount of time the children spends with the non-residential parent is addressed in a parenting time agreement or order.
Sole allocation of parental responsibilities is the term that describes the arrangement that gives one parent the responsibility for deciding everything related to the child’s welfare. It does not mean that the other parent is out of the picture.
Shared allocation of parental responsibilities is a form of joint allocation of parental responsibilities. It is appropriate when the child spends equal time with each parent, the parents reside in the same school district and are able to joint parent.
How Masters Law Group Can Help
Masters Law Group LLC focuses on helping clients assert their rights to further the best interests of their children. Attorney Erin E. Masters is a court-appointed Child Representative and has experience advocating for children in these high-conflict matters. Attorney Anthony G. Joseph is also on the list of approved Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representatives for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
We offer a variety of services to help parents, children, and families through difficult times like Divorce, Parenting Time and Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. If you are in need of legal assistance, contact a member of our team today. Our attorneys will work with you to develop an action plan that is fair and fits your unique needs and goals.
We will work diligently on your behalf and provide regular updates throughout the process. You can count on us when it matters most—and we hope that means now! Contact us today to speak to a qualified Chicago family law attorney to set up a free consultation with us.