Kids in South Florida have now returned to school and it's time to face the music. If you're separated, in the middle of a divorce, or are already divorced, you may not care very much for co-parenting with your ex-spouse. However, you know that your children need you to put aside your animosity in order to make their school year a success.
The upbringing of your children under these circumstances can be challenging. This is an important time for your children to feel support from both parents and to know that you both care for his or her success. Remember the following peaceful co-parenting tips to keep your children's school year going as smoothly as possible.
Successful Co-Parenting Tips
- Be proactive. Stay ahead of any anticipated disputes by designing, implementing, and complying with a detailed and customized Parenting Plan. A Florida Parenting Plan is your roadmap and your guide. It provides all parents (biological and step-parents) the specific terms and conditions under which they are to operate when dealing with your children. The more detailed your Florida Parenting Plan, is the fewer disputes will erupt over the course of the school year. However, we all know that such detailed designing and implementation is easier said than done;
- Shopping for school requires the participation of both parents. Always coordinate back-to-school shopping and during-the-school year shopping with your co-parent. Shopping is a big job and an expensive one. It should not all be dumped on one parent. If you and your co-parent are in a high-conflict relationship, try to remember not to sweat the small stuff. If you don't agree on your co-parent choice of clothing or school supplies, try to compromise as best you can.
- Coordinate your expectations regarding school work and academic performances. Who will be responsible for making sure that classroom assignments are properly completed and handed in? Which parent is available to work on research projects that will take many weeks to complete? Perhaps, you can divide up the school work responsibilities by subject matter (Dad helps with history; Mom helps with math) or perhaps Dad can work with one child and Mom will work with the other. If these responsibilities are not laid out in your Parenting Plan, then meet with your co-parent well before the commencement of the school year and lay out what should happen.
- Create a parental backpack. There are various items that each parent needs to see and sign during the school year: progress reports, changes in schedules, upcoming field trips, etc. It can be difficult to make sure that you and your ex both have been given necessary information. There also may be other items that need to be transported from one co-parent to the other during the school year. To help facilitate the transmission of information or objects, have a backpack that is only used to transport these items between you and your ex. Doing so will reduce lost items, will keep your children out of the middle of information and disputes, and will help keep everyone informed.
- Talk directly to your ex – your children is not your messenger. Whether you're newly separated or recently divorced, your children probably have to deal with more than enough turmoil without having to become your personal messenger to your ex. Don't add to your children's stress by making him or her the message carrier for adult issues such as child support, schedule changes, etc.
- Attend important school events with your co-parent. This may not be always possible if you and your co-parent are in a high-conflict relationship. You become a much more effective parent if you and your co-parent can sit down together at parent-teacher meetings, school orientation, sports orientations, and other important events in your children's lives. Even if you have to sometimes grit your teeth, doing so will be best for your children because it makes your children more comfortable and makes them realize that both parents do in fact love them.
- Be flexible when it comes to your children's needs. When you are going through a divorce or separation, it can be difficult to keep things in perspective. You want your timesharing with your children and sometimes that's the only goal that you can see. However, there may be times when your children has an assignment that requires your former spouse's computer or supplies that are stored at the other home. There also may be times when afterschool commitment may be more difficult to stay at your home. Remember, a scheduled school event or extracurricular event does not mean that your ex is trying to take time away from you or that your children do not want to see you. So be flexible, always make decisions in your children's best interests.
- Respect the co-parent. Even though you and your ex could not make your relationship work, you need to respect your children's co-parent. Don't discuss issues like Florida child support, alimony, schedule changes in front of your children or say anything negative about the co-parent in front of your children. This can cause your children to feel like he or she has to choose sides. And make sure that you instruct third parties dealing with your children (especially your immediate family members), to follow the same advice.
To recap, take some time to celebrate the fantastic times you've had with your children. Communicate with your co-parent and be flexible. By following the above tips, you can ease your children's transition back into school, and maximize his or her chances for a successful school year.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss financial issues related to divorce, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312.