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3 back-to-school tips for divorced or separated parents

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2024 | Child Custody

If you’re like most parents, it can seem like you’ve barely gotten into the summer routine before the back-to-school season arrives and your schedule gets upended all over again. 

For parents who are newly separated or divorced, the early days of the return to school can be particularly challenging. There are a lot of additional issues to consider and new situations to navigate. Here are three tips for success:

1. Divide and conquer the extra expenses

Back-to-school shopping is always expensive. Between shoes, new clothes, classroom supplies, extracurricular fees and other necessities, it can get tough for parents to keep up. Open a line of communication with your co-parent and figure out who will shop for what items, so that you don’t duplicate your efforts (and costs) and frustrate each other. 

Even if one parent is going to take charge of the purchases, decide how you will divide the bills. One of the easiest methods is to divide these costs the same way your support obligations work, whether that’s 50/50 or 70/30.

2. Have a plan for emergencies

You may no longer be a couple, but you’re still a team when it comes to parenting – so you need to plan together for all of the unexpected situations that can arise during the school year. 

Make some agreements on who will be the primary contact person if one of the kids gets sick or hurt at school, who can take off work or arrange childcare for those times, and which parent will respond to emergency school closures. A co-parenting app can make coordinating around unexpected events a breeze.

3. Make space for the extracurriculars

You need a co-parenting calendar so that both you and your co-parent are kept up-to-date on your children’s extracurriculars. Neither of you should be left out of witnessing your child’s band concert, big game, musical solo or on-stage debut in a play because they weren’t kept informed. 

This is also another area that requires careful communication and commitment on both sides. Figure out who will pick the kids up from band practice or track, and how that will factor into your existing custody and visitation plans. Flexibility is key.

If co-parenting becomes overwhelming or contentious because you and your co-parent cannot agree on how to divide the load, you may need to look into revising your parenting plan accordingly. Having your shared responsibilities in writing can make things much clearer.