Nothing throws a kink in a well-crafted custody schedule like the start of a new school year. Between homework, sports events, after-school clubs, choir or band practice and all the other things that can occupy both kids and their parents, it can be tough to maintain a workable plan.
How do you manage it? There’s no better way than communication and cooperation with your ex-spouse. Here are some guidelines you can follow that will help make the school year a success.
1. Agree to disagree.
Put all of your differences with your spouse on the back burner and focus on the needs of your child. Working together to make certain that your child succeeds during the school year doesn’t mean you have to be friends with your ex. It does mean shelving your disputes for another time.
2. Have a homework plan.
If you and your ex-spouse can agree on how homework is to be handled, that’s great. If not, you need to respect the other’s boundaries and realize that each of you sets the rules for your own household. However, that means sitting your child down and explaining the different expectations so that they aren’t left guessing. Don’t explain to your child why you think your way is best. Just focus on what needs to be done.
3. Use an online calendar.
Nothing will get you into a dispute with your ex faster than leaving them out of your child’s social calendar. There are plenty of online calendar tools you can use (which cut down on the need for direct conversation) to let your ex know when parent-teacher conferences are scheduled and when your child’s band concert is being held. It’s also a good way to communicate about things like sleepovers and other important social events.
4. Discuss all the extra expenses.
Child support isn’t always enough when school is in session — especially when there are extra expenses like money for a school trip, band uniforms and sports fees. Try to make an agreement with your ex about how much each of you will pay and what your child will be expected to contribute (if anything).
Child custody agreements are rarely, if ever, as simple as they seem on paper. You have to be prepared to navigate the seasons of your child’s life as things go forward.