Back to school comes sooner than we expect. Buying clothes, new backpacks, supplies, and for soon-to-be or already divorced parents, a whole new set of challenges to be faced.
But with planning and good communication, the only ones who have to fear the 1st day of school will be the kids.
The following are five tips to keep in mind in staying involved with your child and promoting your child’s excellence at school:
1. WHAT TO INCLUDE IN THE PARENTING AGREEMENT: If you are separated or in the process of divorce, make sure your parenting agreement stipulates that both parents, custodial and non-custodial have access to school records, the students portal, and all communications the schools send out. This is important whether your child goes to public or private schools
2. WHAT TO TELL THE SCHOOL AND YOUR CHILDREN’S TEACHERS: Once you and the other parent have physically separated, let the school and every one of your children’s teachers know. Make sure the school has both parents’ names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Include in this list any non-custodial adults who would be picking the child up if sick or anyone involved with the child’s care.
Many schools use an online portal to post homework assignments, test results, notices, and report cards, which is why Rule #1 is critical.
WHAT IF MY CHILD’S SCHOOL ISN’T ONLINE?
But not all schools use an online system or use it only for some information. Some schools mail notices or report cards but many send them home with the student. If your child’s school mails report cards etc, see if they will send a copy to both addresses. But it gets tricky if the school gives out notices for your child to take home.
Imagine the chaos of your child being with you on Monday and Thursday but he brought home a notice last Friday (that you never saw) of something due Monday. Now there are children that will tell you what’s due (I question whether they really exist) but for the rest of them, creating a means of communication between the parents is critical for the child’s success- and everyone’s sanity. This means you need to find a way to…………
3. SHARE INFORMATION It’s a commitment with an ex or soon-to-be ex, which is difficult at best. But a smooth, consistent open channel of communication will help your child and reduce the friction that not knowing what’s up can bring.
One excellent suggestion is to create a shared online calendar such as Google Calendar or Our Family Wizard. These can be used to share notices that came home, changes in schedules etc. This can be shared with all of the adults involved in your children’s lives (babysitters, ex’s extended family, grandparents etc). Updated in real-time, it can eliminate a lot of family stress.
4. PLAN FOR PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCES..and all other critical school meetings. Are you both going to attend? While this option is probably in the best interest of your child, it might not work well for all families. Some schools will allow separate conferences, some might allow ZOOM ones. Check with your school to see what your options are.
5. PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED: A simple case of pink eye can cause havoc in any family, even more so in a divorce situation. Who will pick up a sick child from school; who will stay home from work, who will take the child to the doctor, and on and on? If the last 3 years have taught us anything, it is it’s hard to plan.
Why Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti? From one of our clients?
“From the initial consultation with Mr. Martin Hoffman, I knew I was in good hands. My attorney was Mr. John Agnetti because it was a divorce case. John is a compassionate and highly competent attorney. He and his staff were very responsive, not just to me as the client, but also to the court with filings. I am a paralegal; I KNOW lawyers. Early on in the case, I was so impressed with John that I asked his office for business cards so I could give them to our clients, or anyone, in need of a family law referral. The divorce took a little over two years, but I could not have asked for a better outcome and I owe all of that to John. I hope I never have to go through another divorce, but if I do, I’m calling John.” J, 2021
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