3 Back to School Tips for Divorced or Separated Parents

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

If you and your ex have recently gotten divorced in Wisconsin or gone through any sort of litigation over changes in custody or placement of your minor children, you’ll need to make some reasonable attempts to communicate about those changes when the school year rolls around. Your relationship as a couple didn’t work out, but you’ll have to make efforts to co-parent peacefully and respectfully for the sake of your children.

Here are three tips to make the school year easier on you, your ex and the children:

  1. School Registration & Teacher Communication. When it’s time to register your children for school, it is wise to make the school office and your children’s teachers aware that your children are living in two separate households. Take appropriate steps to ensure that you and your ex are receiving communication from the school and from the teachers. This will keep everyone on the same page when it comes to homework assignments, field trips, school programs, awards or disciplinary actions.
  2. Variable Expenses. Review your most current judgment, order or written agreement you have with your ex regarding variable expenses. If your paperwork doesn’t specifically outline which parent is responsible for certain expenses, communicate with you ex about how to divide the costs fairly. For example, you and your ex might decide that one parent will purchase everything on the school supply list and submit receipts for reimbursement of one-half from the other parent. Or, you and your ex could choose to have one parent pay for the school registration fees and lunch money for the year, and the other will purchase supplies, then call it a wash. Whatever the two of you choose, make sure you both have a clear understanding and feel comfortable with the agreement.
  3. School Photos & Activities. Make an agreement with your ex to share photos from sporting events, school programs and extracurricular activities if the other is unable to attend. Decide how you’ll share the photos and within what timeframe. For example, if your child has a holiday concert and the other parent can’t attend, perhaps you’ll agree that the parent in attendance will put the photos on a flash drive and deliver it within two weeks. Some parents may not need to get that specific, but for others, it will help keep the peace. You may also want to talk about what the children will wear for school picture day and if you want to purchase a photo package together.

In most situations, you and your ex can likely handle scheduling conflicts and small disagreements on your own. When larger disputes erupt that you simply cannot resolve, you may need to get a family law lawyer involved. The divorce lawyers and custody attorneys at Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C. in Appleton and Green Bay offer a free, 30-minute consultation. One of our compassionate family law attorneys can meet with you to discuss your legal rights and create an action plan to achieve a fair result.