It's that time of year again, when children head back to school and parents' lives fill up with school-related duties like shuttling kids back and forth and helping with homework. For Pennsylvania couples going through divorce, the issue of who gets child custody is only one item to negotiate once kids go back to school. Communication disputes can crop up if one parent does something the other doesn't expect, or if one parent feels left out of the loop regarding school-related decisions. In those instances where the parties cannot agree, mediation or court intervention may be necessary.
Nevertheless, here are a few tips to make negotiating school-related child custody issues easier. First, try mapping out the school year ahead of time. Parents can pick a neutral location like a cafe or coffee shop, arm themselves with the school calendar and a couple planners and set out a basic plan as far as visitations, holidays and school transportation issues go. Things may change as the year progresses, but it may help to get a general game plan in place up front. Alternatively, parents can set up an online calendar both have access to if they think a face-to-face meeting isn't yet a good idea.
It can also be a good idea to keep child custody swaps away from school premises. This saves children from any potential embarrassment should tension or conflict arise between parents going through divorce. Parents may want to choose a neutral location near the school if doing a Friday afternoon swap after school gets out.
Another important tip is to remember that children shouldn't be the go-between for messages between parents. Parents who don't feel comfortable discussing things face to face, or even on the phone, can stick with email. This also has the added benefit of leaving a written record should issues crop up at a later date.
A final consideration for Pennsylvania parents going through divorce to remember is that homework shouldn't just be the burden of whichever parent has primary child custody. Helping children with homework can be a good way to bond with them. This can also help children have a sense of stability as they transition from one home to the other. Bedrooms and which parent they spend time with may change from day to day, but homework and school will be constants in their lives that help them feel more grounded.
Source: Huffington Post, "Divorcing Parents: 5 Tips For A Successful School Year," Bari Zell Weinberger, Aug. 28, 2012