Effective Co-Parenting: Back to School & Parenting Plans

Navigating the back-to-school season as a newly separated couple with children is undeniably not easy. The bittersweet mix of memories and uncertainties can make even the strongest of hearts quiver. It’s a time when the weight of the past collides with the challenges of the present, and the uncertainty of the future.

In this intricate dance of co-parenting, it is not unusual for the parents to find themselves fighting with each other. It’s natural, and not even that unusual, given that both parents are having to learn how to effectively communicate and navigate their new life situation. In the grand scheme of things, moving past the fighting and arguing and coming to an agreement to make a path forward for the benefit of the children is what’s really important. 

As you face the upcoming school days, remember that the small steps you take to bridge the chasm between the other parent and you will lay the foundation for your child’s academic and emotional success. To be as prepared as you can be, we’ve come up with this short checklist to help you get everything in order. As always, our Atlanta Family Law attorneys are here to help and our site is a library of free resources to help you navigate your best future.

School Choice and Co-Parenting:

There are two types of custody in Georgia; Legal and Physical. Courts often lean towards the parents sharing joint legal custody, however one parent usually has ultimate decision making and primary physical custody. Whether the decision revolves around enrolling in private school, charter school, or whatever it may be, we recommend engaging in communication with the other parent before making a final decision.

In cases of joint legal custody, the rights of both parents hold significant weight when it comes to pivotal choices that shape their children’s lives. This includes school choice. In other words, where children will be enrolled, or if they will be homeschooled.

Parenting plans are crafted so that both parents consult with each other, share information, and dialogue before a final decision is made. Even if one parent has the ultimate decision making power, the goal of successful co-parenting is to have a working relationship with the other side.

Can you enroll your child in extracurricular activities?

Which and how many extracurricular activities a child can participate in can be as contentious a topic as which school they attend. As with school choice, we always recommend that parents try to come up with a fair and balanced agreement to extracurriculars, keeping in mind that the children will have an opinion in what they want to do as they get older. 

Back-to-School Co-Parenting Checklist:

  • Review your parenting plan
  • Talk about transportation to and from school, after school, and other places
  • Talk about school supplies
  • Agree on a bed-time schedule
  • Discuss Church activities
  • If the child is old enough, can they have a Part-time job
  • Weekend activities
  • Set up good information sharing habits
  • Talk about college applications

Ideally, you have a parenting plan in place and it addresses the back-to-school season. However, if this is not the case, you might want to consider a post-divorce modification to your plan.

What if you simply can’t agree with the other parent?

If finding common ground for the sake of your children seems genuinely unattainable, one of the co-parents might need to contemplate pursuing a modification of parenting time action with the Court. However, it’s crucial to bear in mind that altering a custody order can evolve into a protracted and financially demanding process. Thus, it should only be embarked upon if it unmistakably aligns with the children’s paramount well-being.

For disputes demanding immediate attention, the option of seeking emergency custody or an accelerated custody modification hearing may be viable. It’s important to acknowledge that the determination of what qualifies as an “emergency” can differ between courts in different counties. Consequently, assurance of a hearing is not a given. In cases where neither an emergency nor an expedited hearing is an option, the prospect of waiting for a court hearing stretches across several months, even up to a year. In anticipation of potential delays, it’s wise to have an alternative course of action prepared and at the ready.

If you think a child custody order needs to be changed, or if an ex-spouse is pushing to change an order and you don’t agree, the Atlanta family law attorneys at Edwards Law Group are here to help. We know Georgia family law inside out with years of experience. We’re understand what you’re going through and know how to make it better. Drop us a call at 770-723-7211 for a chat about your case today.