Back to School

When you and your co-parent separate or divorce, you must come up with a parenting plan for your children. These plans are usually broken down into school year, summers/vacation and holidays. As September rolls around, the carefree summer arrangements you had for your school-aged child are phased out and you must get into “back to school” mode.

If both parents live in the same school district, physical custody arrangements can be much less complicated. Starting with a 50/50 sharing arrangement, you could do 2 days with one parent, 2 days with the other parent, and switching off every other weekend. If you live within walking distance of your co-parent, you may consider week on, week off, depending upon the age(s) of the child(ren). If your children take the bus to get to school, do not worry. There is a recent PA court decision which says that the local school district must provide bus transportation to both parents’ homes, if they reside in the same school district and there is a shared custody arrangement.

Joint custody arrangements can vary widely.  If you have an every-other-weekend plan and live further away, you may feel that you are not sufficiently participating in the school lives of your children.  If possible, try to spend time with your children one evening during the week. You can start with taking them to their organized sports activities on during your weekends with them, and attending those activities on the other weekends or days when the child is with your co-parent.  You can attend back-to­ school nights, parent-teacher conferences, and offer to be a chaperone on school trips. At a minimum, it’s important to know the names of the teachers, the class schedules, have (electronic) access to your child’s assignments and grades, and be in regular contact with teachers and caregivers.

Decisions regarding education/school are part of what is known as “legal custody”.  Legal custody is almost always joint and shared with the other parent, unless one parent is incarcerated or has serious physical or mental issues. Please contact your family law attorney to discuss physical and legal custody concerns.

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