For some children, school can be stressful when their parents are divorced, whether the divorce was years ago or just happened over the summer. It is our responsibility as parents to ensure our kids feel safe and secure at school and at home. But when parents divorce, there can be a lot of questions regarding school—who attends parent-teacher conferences? Who signs permission slips? Who does the school contact in an emergency?
All of these issues should be dealt with in advance, but if they cannot – sooner is better than later.
Planning is key to a smooth school year
Usually, schools make their coming year’s calendar available on their website. If possible, meet with your former spouse (at a neutral location), bring your calendars, and map out the school year schedule together, aligning custody schedules and school breaks, vacations, holidays, and half days.
Update contact forms for the school in case of an emergency
Ensure your child’s contact information for both you and your ex-spouse is current and correct. You can fill out together if your relationship is amicable, or you can call the school and request a copy for your records. Ensure you have copies of all contact information.
Speak with administrators about pick-ups and drop-offs
In today’s security-heavy school culture, who is allowed to pick up the children from school is vitally important. When filling in forms, it should be very clear who may pick up the child every day and who should be called first in the event of an emergency. Your former spouse should be aware of their responsibilities and prepared to follow through.
On the flip side, if there are custody issues—like one parent being forbidden visitation—this should be noted on school forms. Many school forms allow you to list specific people who may not pick up your child. This documentation can be extremely important to your child’s safety.
Make an effort for school conferences and activities
Back-to-school night, concerts, and sports are all important for your child, and both parents should make an effort to attend. If your relationship with your ex is difficult, let the school or guidance counselor know your family situation. They may have suggestions on making these events easier for you and your child.
Be upfront when it comes to non-involved parents
If your child’s parent has moved or is no longer part of your child’s life, let their teachers and school know. This avoids potential embarrassment if the school holds any type of event, like a Father-Daughter dance, or “Learn About Mom’s Job Day,” and your child has no one to attend with them. If possible, you may be able to invite another family member or close family friend to attend instead.
Do not communicate through your child
It might seem easier to ask your child to let your ex-spouse know about any schedule changes or homework, but that information needs to come from you. If you don’t want to talk to your ex, use email or email. This also creates a paper trail, so your ex cannot later claim that they did not know of any changes.
Co-parenting after divorce is never easy, but it can be less stressful if you keep some tips in mind. We wish a happy school year to you and your children!
Navigating the school year as a divorced parent can be difficult, but not impossible. If you need help with your divorce agreement or assistance in enforcing your existing agreement, talk to the Nashville family law attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC. Our legal team is dedicated to finding the best solutions for you and your children. Please call 615.454.9899 or use our contact form to schedule a consultation.