Under the best of circumstances, joint custody is difficult for parents and children. If terms aren’t amicable, one parent is resistant to court rulings, or if children are having a particularly hard time adjusting, it can be downright awful. Through it all though, it is important to maintain perspective about what’s most important — your children. You and your former spouse or partner need to work out your differences while shielding your children from adult-themed conversations. Our team at the Women & Children’s Law Center in Oklahoma City has a lot of experience helping families through this process. They’ve put together some suggestions here to help your family get through the back-to-school season this year.
MAKE SURE YOUR CUSTODY AGREEMENT IS REALISTIC
If you are dealing with back-to-school planning for the first time as a divorced or separated parent, you may find out that some things you insisted on during custody negotiations just aren’t practical. That’s okay. Emotions run high, and parents often ask for what they think is best during court proceedings, only to find out that when it comes down to the realities of day-to-day life, things just aren’t going to work out. If you are finding that your custody agreement isn’t working well for you, and isn’t improving your child’s life, talk with your attorney about the possibility of amending your agreement. Most of the time, when it is obviously in the best interest of a child, judges will be open to making amendments. And, if your amendment includes making some new compromises with your co-parent, it may also be an opportunity to mend some old wounds and to become better parents.
COMMUNICATE, EVEN WHEN IT ISN’T EASY
Keeping lines of communication open with your co-parent is critical whenever your family is going through a transitional time. Back to school definitely qualifies. With after-school activity schedules still up in the air, field trips, parent-teacher conferences, and other new items to put on the schedule, you are going to need to communicate more. Hopefully, your child’s school provides all of the detailed information you need online, so you can both access it and use that information to inform your discussions. If not, ask them to send information to both of you. If they won’t, or can’t accommodate that request, the burden is on both parents to stay informed. It isn’t okay to blame your co-parent for not sharing information if you are going out of your way to being inaccessible.
You can simplify communication about schedules and activities by keeping it all on a shared calendar. A simple online calendar that you both have access to can help avoid a lot of conflicts. You and your co-parents can see exactly what is on your child’s schedule, and which parent is responsible for transportation, paying fees, and providing snacks. A shared calendar also gives you a point of reference when you need to discuss schedules or negotiate a change. By having this shared view of your child’s life, a lot of conflicts might be avoided.
If you are worried that your custody agreement might not be compatible with changes in your child’s back-to-school schedule, you aren’t alone. Many newly divorced or separated parents go through the same thing. Our team at the Women & Children’s Law Center in Oklahoma City is here to help. Give us a call to schedule a consultation. We’re happy to meet with you, or with you and your co-parent to help facilitate a new agreement and help you get court approval for a plan that works for everyone, especially for your children.