Going back to school can be an adventure for children and a big expense for parents. It can be a major scheduling and lifestyle adjustment for any family.
When a family has a co-parenting arrangement where the adults live in separate homes, the school season inevitably creates some unique challenges that could strain the relationship between co-parents and lead to unnecessary conflict. Those putting together an initial parenting plan and those trying to adjust after an initial divorce filing or separation may benefit from considering the three challenges below and addressing them carefully in their written parenting plan proactively to prevent stress down the road.
The drop-off and pick-up times at schools for different ages of children can be very inconvenient for professionals with first-shift schedules. Parents may need to make use of flexible scheduling benefits or even paid leave on the days that they bring the children to school or pick them up. Then there are the days that lead to disruptions because of disciplinary issues or health challenges. A fight with a classmate or a flu virus might mean that one of the children in the family requires retrieval from school at 10:00 in the morning and then care for the rest of the day. Adults in the family need to have a plan to meet those daily care needs for the children effectively.
As children mature, their opportunities for enrichment activities, including sports and academic clubs, will expand. Most of these activities will cut into evening and weekend time, which can have an impact on co-parenting schedules. There are also many expenses to cover. Adults either need to find a way to share those special events and obligations or divide them. From the cost of equipment to an agreement on who will attend games, there are many ways in which extracurricular activities can create challenges for Michigan co-parents if they don’t discuss sports and similar enrichment activities ahead of time.
The stress of changing family circumstances often manifests in a drop in academic performance. Children of all ages may have lower grades during or after a divorce in the family. Parents need to have plans in place to reduce and mitigate those academic challenges. They may also need to talk ahead of time about how to maintain and enforce consistent standards at both houses. Having the same long-term goals and the same household rules can make it easier for young adults and even grade-school children to adjust to the changes in family circumstances without too much disruption.
Updating an existing parenting plan or drafting and initial one with appropriate inclusions for the school year can make a major difference for divorcing or separated parents who want to help their children make the best of a potentially difficult situation.