17th August 2023

The back to school balancing act for separated parents

Back to school for divorced parents

We might still be in the midst of the summer holidays, but it’ll be no time at all before the kids return to school and realistically the serious planning might have already begun.

Whatever their age, children will always be reliant on their parents while growing up and teamwork is required to make a success of their education, especially if the parents are no longer together. Here are some tips to avoid the issues having a long-lasting impact:

Keeping the school in the loop

It can feel sometimes like changes to a family, especially through separation, is something those involved might want to keep to themselves. But if you aren’t keeping the school updated of how your child’s circumstances are changing, it could have a negative impact on their education.

Schools are no strangers to estranged partners co-parenting. Staff have often undertaken training to understand these situations and how to best support the child, both in the immediacy of a separation and in the long-term. In the event that the separation is due to either parent’s behaviour, they will also be able to keep an eye out for any warning signs in relation around safety.

Agree a parenting plan

Planning ahead is more than just getting jobs done in advance and a parenting plan can often help provide structure that prevents miscommunication or disorganisation between parents.

A parenting plan is a written agreement worked out between parents, whether together or separated, and covers a range of practical issues as well as identifying and sharing out responsibilities. Whilst not legally binding, they can help both parents to know what’s expected of them and acts as a valuable reference in the event of any disputes.

As well as the more everyday matters such as where the children stay, there are a range of areas that a parenting plan would cover that impact school life. These include:

  • The school run: Dropping off and picking up from school can be a stressful time, particularly if it affects the working day. Having a plan in place helps to ensure consistency and routine to the week for the whole family.
  • School costs: Uniforms, lunchboxes, lunches themselves, PE kits and the contents of pencil cases - The list of what children need to get through the week can get costly and who pays for these should be agreed in advance and can be factored into the parenting plan.
  • Contact details: Schools need to be able to communicate with you both, whether to send reports, inform about school events and detentions or reach out in the event of an emergency, there are many reasons why schools will want to contact parents, so make sure they have the details for both parents (and potentially new partners).
  • Extra-curricular activities: Shared responsibility for a child doesn’t end with the school day and it’s important they are not hindered from enjoying hobbies and after-school clubs with their friends. Knowing who is handling the schedule and costs can easily be agreed through the plan.

Choosing and changing schools

The Education Act 1996 lays the responsibility education with both parents, even if they are no longer together, and it’s best for this to be resolved amicably. Moving or changing a child’s school is something that has to be a joint decision. Where there is a dispute between the parents on the matter, the courts can resolve this with a focus on what is best for the child.

Keep communication open

Even if a relationship has ended amicably, communication can always break down and sometimes parents will want to avoid each other altogether. Regardless of whether this is the case, it’s important that they are able to contact each other and still remain in touch, even if just in relation to their children.

For those wanting help in managing this communication, there are a range of co-parenting apps to help manage these tricky communication issues for separated parents. These help parents discuss all child-related matters by keeping all correspondence saved in one place and help reduce the likelihood of correspondence becoming unamicable.

Thrings Family lawyers are experienced in all areas of the law that are close to home. Whether it is marriages and pre-nuptial agreements, or divorces and separations, they will put your best interests first, taking the time to get to know you so that you are supported with sound advice tailored to your needs. To find out more, get in contact.

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