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Co-Parenting When Your Kids Go Back to School

Co-parenting is a parenting arrangement where divorced, separated, or estranged parents collaborate to raise their child. In essence, co-parenting is about putting your child's needs first, despite any personal differences you may have with your ex-partner. 

As the new school year begins, co-parenting can become significantly more challenging due to the added responsibilities and changes that come with it. Not only do parents have to juggle their own schedules, but they also need to organize pick-up and drop-off routines, manage school expenses, and handle communication with the school and its staff. All these tasks require careful planning and open communication, which can be difficult when dealing with an ex-partner. 

How the Start of the School Year Can Affect Co-Parents 

One of the most common issues that the new school year brings is coordinating schedules. With school, extracurricular activities, and parent-teacher meetings to attend, it can be hard to keep everything straight.  

Organizing pick-up and drop-off routines is another challenge. Co-parents need to decide who will be responsible for taking the children to school and picking them up. This decision often depends on each parent's work schedule and other commitments—and, more importantly, the terms outlined in the parenting plan.  

Managing school expenses can also be problematic. From uniforms and textbooks to field trips and lunch money, the cost of education can add up quickly. While child support funds can be used to cover these costs, some parents may agree to divide the expenses. However, agreeing to divide school-related costs or discussing these expenses can lead to disputes.  

Communication with the school and its staff is another potential hurdle. Both parents need to be kept informed about their child's progress, upcoming events, and any issues that arise. It is important that the school knows to communicate with both parents, not just the one they see most often. 

Co-Parenting & Back to School | Tips for Co-Parents 

Despite these challenges, there are several strategies that co-parents can use to make the new school year run smoothly, including:  

  • Create a shared calendar. A shared calendar can help both parents stay on top of school events, assignments, and other important dates. There are many online tools and apps available that make it easy to share and update calendars in real time. If co-parents use a co-parenting app, they can also benefit from other features in the app. like shared expense lists, communication guides, and more.  

  • Establish clear communication. Open, honest communication is key to successful co-parenting. This includes discussing school expenses upfront and deciding how they will be divided.  

  • Stay involved. Both parents should strive to be involved in their child's education. This might include attending parent-teacher conferences, helping with homework, or volunteering at school events. It is also important to note that parents cannot try to keep the other out of the loop if they have legal and/or physical custody rights.  

  • Be flexible. Flexibility is crucial in a co-parenting relationship. Be willing to adjust your schedule or swap days when necessary to accommodate school events or changes in the other parent's schedule.  

  • Seek professional guidance. If co-parenting challenges become overwhelming, don't hesitate to seek help from a professional. Family therapists and co-parenting counselors can provide valuable insight and practical advice. In some instances, it may be wise to reach out to an experienced family law and child custody attorney. The more detailed a parenting plan is, the better, and you may consider modifying your agreement to include more provisions and/or to better address your needs.  

Call (949) 577-7935 to request a consultation with our attorneys. At The Neshanian Law Firm, Inc, we handle initial petitions for custody and modification cases.