Transitioning a shared custody agreement into the school year can be difficult; however, with a shared custody schedule it doesn't have to be. When you and your ex have shared custody of your children, one of your most valuable tools is to create a shared custody schedule for the school year. This helps divorced parents work together in order to raise their children in the best way possible. Raising kids when parents are married is hard enough but trying to do it in two separate households can seem impossible. So here are some tips in order to create a schedule that makes the transition from house to house as smooth as possible.
Some things to consider first off is the age of the children. Let’s face it, a child in elementary school is going to have different needs than a child in High school. Here are some things to consider when your child is younger:
- Consistency. This is the biggest thing that I could recommend. Make sure that whatever schedule you choose is consistent. This allows the child to anticipate the transition from one house to another and even prepare themselves.
- Regularly scheduled phone calls or Skype calls with the other parent. This allows the child to still bond with both parents and maybe not miss them quite as much. It also allows the other parent to be aware of what’s going on in the child’s life while they are away.
- Allow your child time to settle. This may mean limiting your transitions to once every couple of weeks. Although it’s hard having that amount of time in-between visits, it may make it easier for your child.
- Lastly, listen to the child and see what works best for them. If they aren’t transitioning well, maybe there need to be some changes. Not every child is the same after all.
When it comes to older children we must start considering things such as extra-curricular activities, as well as social life. These are things you don’t have to consider as much for younger children. At this age children are a little more aware of what is working for their schedule and what isn’t, so it’s a good idea to listen to their input and find a solution that works for everyone.
While it’s important to focus on the transition from house to house in the schedule, it’s also important for both parents’ to be involved with your children’s school so that you know what’s going on. A couple of things to consider when it comes to the children’s schooling are:
- Homework. When a child is living in two houses it’s easy for things to get lost in the shuffle or even left behind. Plan for what will happen if homework is left at one of the parent’s houses. It’s also a good idea to know what homework is due so you know if something is missing. Most teachers will be happy to email a homework schedule to parents if asked.
- Get involved. Both parents should be attending parent-teacher conferences, and different functions happening at school. Attending these things and being present for your child really makes a huge difference for them.
The most important thing to remember is this is a hard process for your kids. As hard as it is for you to not see them every day it’s even harder on them. So your plan should really focus on them and how you can make their transition as smooth as possible. Be flexible and know that your children have lives so trey and allow for substituted visits when possible.
As a final, very important note, just because your marriage did not work out doesn't mean your ex is a bad parent. Your child needs to feel the love from both parents. This means to put the needs of your child first and as much as you dislike your ex you shouldn't be bad-mouthing them or teaching your child to hate them. This puts your child in a bad position and makes their transitioning a lot harder.
As your child grows up you are probably going to have to come back to your plan and revise it. As they start joining sports or band, or theater, etc. there will be more games to go to, more practices to attend. So you’ll need to look over the schedule every so often and make sure that it is doing what is best for your child.
If at anytime you are feeling overwhelmed with your custody issue and you need help settling it, at Hampton Roads Legal Services we are here to help put you at ease. Call us today at 757-276-6555 to schedule your consultation.