As we pack away our summer sandals and dust off our fall boots, your kids enter a new school year. Child custody arrangements are relatively simple during the summer – your family spends a week at the beach, your child spends a week at soccer camp but otherwise, you have your days with the kids, and your ex-spouse has theirs.
When school starts, you child re-enters the whirlwind of sports practice, play practice, after school meetings and group projects. Their schedule may change by the month, or even the week. This makes it harder for divorced parents to determine a standard child custody arrangement that works for everyone. How can you create a workable arrangement that smoothes the transition back into school?
- Plan. Diligent planning is the key to success. Sit down and create an online “Childcare Calendar” for both this month and next. Mark all of your commitments, and your children’s commitments, on the calendar. The best part about online calendars is being able to share them with others. Invite your ex-spouse to join the calendar and to add their known commitments as well. This will make it easier for everyone to see important upcoming events, and where there may be some tricky days to plan.
- Communicate.After you setup your calendar, communicate with your ex-spouse. Create a consistent childcare schedule. Keeping a consistent schedule makes the transition easier on your child. Figure out which nights each of you will have the kids. Try to not have your kids switch back and forth between homes too often during the school week. Constantly changing homes makes it easy for them to leave important school books, projects or sports gear in the wrong house, causing confusion and a mad scramble to right the issue.
- Be flexible.Your entire family is busy, and schedules can change in the blink of an eye. Be patient and understanding with changes in your children’s schedule or your ex-spouse’s. Take a deep breath and realize that you may need to watch the kids due to your spouse’s unexpected late night at work, but they may do the same for you in the future. However, if they break the custody arrangement on a regular basis, you may need to have a serious talk about your expectations and each spouse’s responsibilities.
Consider contacting an attorney to help you and your spouse revise your back-to-school childcare plan. In the state of Illinois, this is technically referred to as an “allocation judgment,” as opposed to “custody” arrangement as most people think of it. An attorney can help you determine important day-to-day decisions including when each parent will have time with the child and how the child will be transported between homes.