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Back to School while Co-Parenting

Back-to-school is a stressful time for kids and parents. Navigating this season while co-parenting can add another level of difficulty to an already stressful situation. Here are some tips for navigating this time of year.

Get your Schedule Organized

A new school year brings a new class schedule, after-school activities, and extracurriculars like sports, theater, and more. Being on the same page with the other parent about the activities in which your child participates and when those activities take place is an important piece of the co-parenting puzzle. Who will get the child to events? Pick them up? Whose time does it fall under? Are both parents on board with the child participating in this activity? What does your judgment say about who pays for activity expenses?

A shared calendar—whether it’s through Outlook or a calendar app such as WeParent or Cozi—can be an easy way to communicate about when and where your child’s activities are.

Back to School Shopping

Buying new clothes and supplies for the school year can be daunting. It can be both financially stressful and time-consuming. Co-parents should try to coordinate who will purchase what. Neither parent should expect the other parent to buy everything. If your co-parenting relationship is high conflict and communication doesn’t come easily, try to compromise where you can. For example, don’t get caught up in the small things like what brand of clothing or supplies to buy.

School Events

School events like orientation and parent-teacher conferences provide a lot of information pertinent to both parents. If possible, attend these functions with the other parent so you both receive the same information at the same time. Details can get lost when parents attend these events separately or when one parent relays the information to the other parent.

If a no-contact order or high conflict relationship prevents you from attending these events with the other parent, work with the school administration to come up with a plan to make sure both parents are in the loop.

Another way to ensure both parents receive the same information is to identify both parents as co-equal contacts in the school’s records. That way both parents receive updates as the year progresses. Both parents should take the responsibility to check school calendars and communicate with each other about school events.

Focus on your Child

Going back to school is also stressful for children. Try to set aside disagreements with your co-parent and focus on giving your child the attention and support they need. It’s important to keep the child out of your disagreements. If you have an issue to discuss with your co-parent, resolve it outside the child’s presence or hearing.

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Victoria S. Konidaris

Victoria joined Gjesdahl Law, P.C. in 2018. Victoria is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba where she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Winnipeg. She is d…
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