Tips for co-parenting as the school year begins

As fall quickly approaches, most families are now involved in preparing their children to go back to school. In households where the parents are divorced, this time can create new hurdles for those making efforts to co-parent successfully. While the summer months likely brought some added flexibility to typically concrete schedules, with the school year comes a renewed need to ensure parents are prepared to handle its demands.

Consequently, it is now a good time to sit down - or email - with a former spouse to determine how the unique requirements of the school year will be managed. While these conversations can be challenging, they can also have significant benefits for your children and allow for a smooth transition into the new school year.

Make a plan for after-school time

When children return to school, they inevitably will begin receiving homework and will likely ask to participate in some after-school activities, including sports and music groups. Divorced parents would be wise to discuss how they will ensure these needs will be met, particularly when the children are splitting their time between two households.

When it comes to homework, both parents will need to take responsibility to ensure the child is receiving the help they need and completing their assignments. Parents may choose to take primary responsibility for certain subjects or agree to take on all homework help when the child is at his or her home. Either way, the key is that both parents remain involved and aware of the child's assignments at school.

As for after-school activities, parents will need to make extra efforts to plan for the upcoming school year. When parents have joint custody, it may be necessary to determine whether after-school activities are unfairly infringing on one parent's time with the children. In addition, parents will have to ensure they have coordinated pick-up times from such activities and agreed on how the costs of the activities will be divided.

Don't forget other important co-parenting guidelines

During the transition back to school, parents should also continue using the critical co-parenting techniques they implement year-round. For instance, parents should avoid speaking negatively about the other former spouse when in front of the children. In addition, they should avoid using the children as a go-between; rather, parents should communicate directly about issues relating to the co-parenting arrangement.

If you are considering a divorce, consulting with a skilled family law attorney will ensure your rights are protected.