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As the school holidays draw to an end, now comes the time to iron the school uniforms, finish off the homework and start to get back to the daily routine.

 

A new school terms brings nerves and excitement for your children but can be challenging for separated parents trying to co-parent from two different homes. It is understandable that ex-partners will not agree on every decision when it comes to their children; however it is important to ensure that the children’s best interests are always the top priority.

 

Our specialist Family Law Team meet with many divorcing or separated parents each year and understand how tricky co-parenting from two separate homes can be. Whether this is your child’s first year in school, or the start of a new term, here are some quick tips that might make ‘back to school’ a little easier:

 

  • Communication is Key. It is important that you are able to communicate with your ex-partner about any issues, events or updates regarding your child’s education. If you struggle to communicate with your child’s mother / father it might be a good idea to complete a ‘Parenting Plan’. This is a template that outlines various aspects of your child’s life, including school arrangements. Some find that email communication works better than text messages, as it feels more formal and can avoid hasty responses. There are also ‘apps’ available to help separated parents communicate.

 

  • Support their Emotions. Most children are very resilient and will cope with their parent’s separation very well. Others may struggle and need some support during this turbulent time. If you think your child may be struggling then speak to the school’s ELSA or guidance counsellor who may be able to offer emotional support during their time at school, along with giving you feedback on their progress.

 

  • Show a Unified Front. If your child is starting school in Reception Year, get ready for the long list of ‘dates for your diary’ which will be announced in the coming weeks. There will be plenty of assemblies, shows, fetes, sports days, competitions and plays for you to enjoy. Although you may find it difficult to get along with your ex-partner, try to see things from your children’s eyes and understand how much they would enjoy seeing both parents at their school events when possible.

 

  • Organise in Plenty of Time. Plan ahead of time who will be responsible for purchasing the school uniform, school bag, equipment etc. If you require afterschool childcare, who will be arranging and paying for it? Who will be doing school pick-ups and drop offs on each day? If you plan these things early, then you will have more time to discuss, negotiate and finalise your plans before the school term is upon you. If you do run into difficulties on making decisions that you all agree on, then you will have time to seek legal advice before the school term begins.

  • Liaise with the School. If there is any animosity between parents or a court order is in place ensure that the school are aware and that they have a list of agreed contacts who are able to pick up from school or who are to be contact in case of an emergency. It is often advised to add both parents to any email distribution lists so that both can be kept updated with the school diary and any notices or events. If safeguarding is an issue at any point then urgently make the school aware.

 

  • Choosing Future Schools. When it comes to selecting a junior school or Secondary school for your child this can often be where parents disagree. You will need to take into consideration your children’s desires, talents and how they will get to the school each day.

 

  • Work as a Team. It can already be quite disruptive for a child living between two houses, but can be even more confusing if there are different rules or routines in each one! Ensure that you are sticking to the same routine as much as possible in terms of bedtimes and discipline. Ensure that homework is done on time and that both houses are organised with the clean uniform and school items. Although you may not get along well, it is important to work together when it comes to the children so as not to affect their school life.

 

If you are struggling to communicate with your ex-partner but need to resolve issues or make decisions about your children then Mediation could be a good option. Mediation is held around a table with the support from a natural family law expert who can guide the discussion and help you come to an agreed solution without raised voices or going off topic. If the relationship is difficult, you can opt for ‘Shuttle Mediation’ which is held in separate rooms with your Mediator going between to speak to you both individually.

 

Alternatively, if mediation is not appropriate for your situation or you fail to come to an agreement then you can apply to the courts where a family judge would decide the best option for your child.

 

Going through a separation or divorce when children are involved can be a distressing time. If you need legal assistance then please get in touch with our specialist Family Lawyers on 01256 844888.

 

Our understanding team have experience dealing with a wide range of family law matters including separation agreements, divorce, children matters, mediation and injunctions.

 

For further information please call 01256 844888 or email enquiries@lambrooks.com.

 

 

 

 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.