kids in a classroom

Back-to-School Tips for Co-Parents

The beginning of the school year is closer than you may think. If you co-parent your child with a divorced or separated parent, you probably already understand some of the issues that arise in doing so. Or perhaps this is the first school year in which you must co-parent. Regardless, Cohen Family Law is here to provide not only experienced legal counsel but also practical advice for navigating the custody challenges you face. Here are a few tips we suggest:

Tip #1: Know and follow the court order

By now, you may already have a court order that governs parenting time and legal decision-making between you and the other parent. It is imperative that you know and follow this custody order, and even take some time to review it again before the school year starts. Failure to follow this order could end up with you having to explain your actions to a judge in a contempt hearing.

Tip #2: Make note of what works and doesn’t work with your current order

Speaking of court orders, they are often put to the test when the child’s school year begins anew. Issues may arise between you and the other parent that were not addressed by your prior custody order. On the other hand, you may encounter something that makes it clear the terms of the current order simply aren’t working. If either of these come to pass, you may need to ask the court to modify the previous order. We can help with that.

Tip #3: Coordinate everything ahead of time

When the school year begins, there will be plenty of exchanges of the child with the other parent. These include pick-ups, drop-offs, extracurricular activities, and more. Don’t wait until the last minute to coordinate these events with the other parent. And, of course, remember any requirements in your custody order that apply to said exchanges (e.g. the time to do the drop-off).

Tip #4: Set a routine and try to match it with the other parent’s

The time your child spends with you is precious, but you will also want to make sure it’s structured. Set expectations for homework, chores, when the child will wake up and go to sleep, etc. Although you don’t have much control over the schedule and routine the other parent maintains with the child, try to coordinate yours with his or hers so the child isnt having to make major changes every time he or she moves between parents.

Tip #5: Attend events together

The school year brings parent conferences, school and extracurricular events, medical appointments, and more. If possible, attend these events with the other parent. This is good for your child but may also reap other benefits. For instance, meeting the child’s teachers together can help maintain some sense of normalcy for your child after a divorce or split. But by doing so you can also explain your family and living situation to the teachers so they can prepare for any issues that may arise with your child.

Tip #6: Create a shared calendar

To make sure both parents can attend events and stay on the same page, create a shared calendar. Plenty of phone apps exist that allow parents to easily do this. This may also help reduce direct communication with the other parent if that’s a problem. Additionally, a shared calendar can minimize conflicts with the other parent by ensuring that you’ve disclosed what you need to.

Tip #7: Disclose information

Speaking of disclosure, you should err on the side of oversharing information about the child with the other parent. Even if it’s something a court order does not require you to disclose, sharing it will make it much harder for the other parent to later claim you’ve been hiding information about the child.

The Final Tip: Retain A Dedicated Phoenix Child Custody Attorney

Last but not least, make sure you speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney. Whether you already have a custody order or not, whether you need to modify a prior order or defend against the other parent trying to modify it, retaining legal counsel will make any co-parenting issues much less stressful during the school year. Talk to Cohen Family Law today to learn more.