As New Jersey children head back to school, many recently divorced parents may be struggling to adjust their routine now that they are no longer living together as a family. And even when the divorce itself was resolved with a minimum of acrimony, there are often issues that arise in the back-to-school context that parents failed to previously consider. With that in mind, here are a few pieces of advice for parents looking to help their child start the new school year on the right foot.
1. Are you both checking your child's homework?
If the child primarily lives with one parent, the non-custodial parent may simply assume the custodial parent is responsible for making sure the child completes their homework and other school assignments on-time. But this is often a short-sighted approach. After all, what happens when the child needs to complete an assignment during an evening or weekend they are scheduled to spend with the non-custodial parent? This is why both parents need to coordinate when it comes to monitoring their child's schoolwork.
2. Are you keeping each other informed about your child's health?
If a child is sick and needs to leave school early, a teacher or nurse may inform one parent but not both. If you are the parent who picks up your child, make sure to call or text the other parent to let them know what has happened. Similarly, if one parent decides to keep the child home from school due to illness, make sure to notify the other parent.
3. How do you plan to handle snow days?
We all know how bad winters can get in New Jersey. If your child's school is forced to cancel classes or close early due to inclement weather, it is important for parents to have a “snow day” plan in place. While the terms of your divorce may spell out some of this, you may need to make adjustments based on the unpredictable nature of the weather and differences in each parent's work schedule.
4. Have you talked with your child about his or her concerns?
Parents always need to remember that divorce represents a transitional period not just for them, but their child. This transition may be especially difficult if your child is starting a new school for the first time post-divorce. So make sure your child knows they can talk to you openly and honestly about how things are going at school. Parents can also make the return-to-school go more smoothly by taking their child in together for the first day of classes.
As with all aspects of post-divorce parenting, all parties need to maintain open and effective lines of communication. There will inevitably be disagreements, but you can avoid unnecessary conflict through proper planning. Hopefully, the suggestions listed above will help you form a plan that works best for you, your ex, and your child. And if you need further advice with respect to the law, contact Jessica Mazur at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 732-545-4717 today.