Starting a New School Year
Co-Parenting After a Divorce
For many children, heading back to school means big changes, including a new classroom,
teacher, schedule, and maybe even a new school. But if you went through a separation or
divorce over the summer, you and your child may have already endured your fair share of
Back to school is notoriously stressful for new co-parents. Who pays for what is often no longer
crystal clear, parenting styles will start to differ, and you might even find it hard to navigate kid-
related issues like homework, bedtime, and scheduling. We’ll admit, it’s tricky, but not
impossible. Check out these tips to kick off the school year (and your co-parenting relationship)
the right way!
Prepare During Summer For the new School Year
Routine, routine, routine. The best way to help your child ease into a new school year after a
major home-life change is to maintain a routine. Whether that’s bedtime, a visitation schedule,
drop-offs and pick-ups from events, or planning future school vacation responsibilities, sorting
out these details early is the key to stability. Remember, it’s important that both parents work
together to make the needs of their child the top priority.
As summer closes, schools and teachers usually provide more specific information about the
school year, including supplies needed, class schedules, and “meet the teacher” availability.
Take the time to discuss who will handle each of these as well. It’ll save you energy later.
When hashing out a new life schedule, it’s better to figure things out yourself. But if that’s not
possible, consider working with a professional to help you and your co-parent strategize a
solution for your family.
Once you’ve settled on a plan and schedule, make sure to communicate it to both your child’s
teacher and the school. Provide contact information for both parents and ask that any
information regarding your child is sent to each household. To achieve a smooth school year
while co-parenting, all parties should be on the same page.
You may also choose to tell your child’s teacher about what’s happening at home to help them
gain a better understanding of your child’s behavior. If your child is an appropriate age,
however, you may consider allowing them to make the decision of how much of your family
situation is shared with the school.
Remember Your Finances
The start of a new school year can be very expensive for many families. And after a separation
or divorce, money can be tight to begin with. Navigating who should pay for what can be a huge
source of tension between co-parents, so have financial conversations often, even if they
become uncomfortable. Much like you probably discussed the state of your finances and your
individual financial goals while married, it’s equally important to do that now.
If you have a strong co-parenting relationship, you may be able to strike a balance between
financially supporting your child while reaching your personal financial goals like buying a
house, paying off student loan debt, or even creating their college fund. Just remember that
communication is key and all efforts should be to improve your child’s lifestyle.
Focus On Your Children During the School Year
If your child participates in sports or other family-oriented activities (ice cream socials, concerts,
basketball games, etc.), do your best to keep the focus on them. It isn’t always comfortable to
be around your co-parent, particularly if the relationship has soured a bit, but it’s important your
child feels loved and supported. The first people they look for at these types of events are their
parents, so make an effort to be in attendance and avoid giving your co-parent the silent
Co-parenting can be a struggle, and the start of a new school year may feel like an additional
stressor. But don’t panic. The best solutions always come back to communication, whether
that’s with the school, your child, or with each other.