As summer comes to an end and the new school year kicks off, parents are faced with the task of transitioning their children to the back-to-school routine. For co-parents, this transition can come with unique challenges, especially when navigating custody and time-sharing arrangements, and maintaining effective communication. At Parra Harris Law, we understand the importance of creating a supportive co-parenting environment during this time. Following are some valuable insights and legal references for parents on how to successfully navigate the back-to-school season while co-parenting.
1. Follow the Terms of Your Co-Parenting Agreement:
The Florida Family Law Code, section 61.13007 requires parents to develop a parenting plan that outlines the details of their co-parenting arrangement. The plan must include provisions for the children’s education, extracurricular activities and transportation, as well as a process for resolving disputes. Failure to adhere to a co-parenting plan in Florida can vary depending on the specific circumstances. However, some of the possible consequences include:
- A court order requiring the parent to comply with the plan
- Loss of parenting time
- Payment of child support arrears
- Modification of the parenting plan
- Criminal charges, such as contempt of court
Importantly, failure to follow an approved parenting plan can also have a negative impact on the children, causing them to feel stressed, confused or angry. It can make it difficult for the children to adjust to school and their living arrangements. Florida law, also under statute 61.13, encourages parents to work together in the best interests of their child’s education, and in all matters. Always keep your child’s well-being at the forefront of every decision.
2. Review and Update Custody Your Agreement, if Required:
If your current custody agreement needs adjustments to accommodate the school year, consult your attorney to ensure that any changes are legally binding. Parra Harris Law can assist in reviewing and updating agreements to reflect changing circumstances.
3. Utilize Open Communication:
Effective co-parenting begins with open and transparent communication between parents. When it comes to the new school year, this means discussing important school-related matters, such as academic schedules, educational-related expenses (tuition, supplies, school uniforms, etc.), transportation, extracurricular activities, and parent-teacher conferences, among others.
4. Coordinate Schedules:
Create a shared calendar to keep track of school events, holidays, and any custody / time-sharing exchanges. Make sure that you and your co-parent are aware of all important dates and commitments. Establishing a well-coordinated schedule in a timely fashion can help minimize confusion and reduce the risk of conflicts. Planning and coordinating attendance at parent-teacher conferences to ensure both parents are involved in their child’s education is especially important. Discuss school progress, address concerns and celebrate achievements together.
5. Address Potential Conflicts in Advance:
Anticipate potential conflicts and address them proactively. Discuss how you’ll handle situations like projects, unexpected illnesses and emergencies.
6. Designate a Communication Channel:
Choose a reliable method of communication between co-parents. Whether it’s through text messages, email, or a co-parenting app, having a designated channel can help streamline communication and avoid miscommunication
7. Maintain Consistency:
Maintaining consistency in routines, rules and expectations between both households is key to providing children with a sense of stability and security. During the school year, when there is typically a lot happening in the way of scheduling, activities, homework, etc., this becomes even more important.
8. Stay Flexible:
While a well-structured plan and consistency are both essential, also remain flexible for unexpected changes. While divorces, custody and time-sharing can often be difficult and emotional, try to act with reason and remember your responsibility to your child. Cooperating, sharing earnestly in parental responsibilities, and understanding that things do not always go as planned, sometimes for perfectly legitimate reasons, is always ideal.
9. Seek Legal Guidance When Needed:
If co-parenting challenges escalate and cannot be resolved amicably, seek legal guidance from professionals experienced in family law in your state.
Parra Harris Law is dedicated to providing expert legal counsel to navigate complex co-parenting and family law issues. With more than 50 years of professional representation experience, our team is here to offer legal expertise, guidance and assistance in ensuring that your child’s best interests remain the top priority during the back-to-school transition, or anytime. Contact us, today.