Co-parenting is rarely easy. It becomes even more difficult when school and extracurricular activities are on the agenda and may conflict with visitation or time the children spend with each parent. The first thing you need to do is check your parenting plan and settlement agreement to see how school time is to be divided between the two of you and how you agreed to deal with extracurricular activities. If you note problems that were not considered at the time the plan was put in place, check with your attorney to see if you have grounds for asking the court for a modification of the Order.
Ellen Kellner, who is herself divorced, has written a book, “The Pro-Child Way: Parenting with an Ex” to help parents who are co-parenting to cope with all the schedule changes that come with school and after school activities. Some of her suggestions include:
- Plan for each day and be sure your children know exactly what they are to do and where they are go at the end of the school day. Leave a note in their back packs for them to consult if the daily schedule changes often.
- Both parents need a copy of the school calendar. Hopefully, both parents can peacefully co-exist and attend school functions together, like Back-to-School night, school plays, sports games and parent conferences.
- Make the children’s needs a priority. Instead of arguing about who has custody on what day or weekend, be flexible and work around the children’s schedules. If a child wants to stay at one parent’s house in order to get help for a school project that is due, work together to make that happen.
- Keep communication flowing freely between you and your ex.
- Make your children feel comfortable enough to express their wishes to both parents.
Other suggestions include:
- Be sure the school knows which parent to call first in an emergency situation.
- Take advantage of the school website and make certain that you both have access to it so you know about homework assignments, grade reports and attendance issues.
- Access to the website will allow you both to communicate with the teacher. Just keep in mind, these are not privileged communications, so be careful what you say.