Divorce & Back to School: Start the New Year Right
In the best of time and worst of times, the one thing divorced parents usually have to rely on is their parenting plan. Whether negotiated amicably or proverbially kicking and screaming in a courtroom, who gets who when and for how long should be abided by in the best interests of the children. Sticking to the parenting plan, respecting custodial parenting decisions and keeping current on financial obligations creates stability and consistency for the children and adults, as well.
That all being said, back to school is a time when schedules tend to get turned upside down – or technically right side up. Bedtimes and rituals usually get relaxed during the summer months. However, back to school brings with it alarm clocks and packed lunches and after-school obligations that all need to be fit back into the schedule. These shifts also can – and should – effect the family’s parenting plan.
- Sleeping arrangements: If you and your ex have been somewhat lax when it comes to extra sleepovers, for example, school time represents a good opportunity to take hold of the reins. Refer back to the parenting plan and observe schedules and agreed-to deadlines. In other words, if it’s your turn to have the kids on a weeknight and you are supposed to have them back at your ex’s house by 9 p.m., be there on time. Failing to observe the rules sends the wrong message to the children and shows a lack of respect for your co-parent.
- Busy kids and parent-taxi drivers: Back to school means a return to after-school clubs and sporting activities. The daily routine has to be adjusted to accommodate drop off and pick ups. If you and your ex can negotiate these issues amicably, good for you! If not, your parenting plan should be followed and amended as the children age to accommodate new activities and issues.
- Get on the same page: One parent may focus on homework, the other may want to enjoy special time with the kids. It’s important to share the grunt work (homework) as well as playtime (movies, TV, etc.) between the parents. Another important aspect of co-parenting is respecting each other’s rules. The best bet is to agree on certain obvious issues such as bed time or what types of snacks will go into the lunchboxes. If bed time is at 8 p.m. at moms, it should be the same at dad’s house.
Additionally, communication is a critical component of a good parenting plan – especially at school time. Be prepared to be flexible because you will soon need your ex’s cooperation.
Ronald Graziano is a skilled family lawyer who will do what’s necessary to protect your children as your parenting plan is negotiated. Contact Graziano & Flynn in Cherry Hill, NJ, today to find out how we can assist your family.