Separation and divorce is hard on everyone – not just mommy and daddy. Children may understandably have a tough time adjusting to new schedules and routines, especially involving school issues and extra-curricular activities.
As concerned parents, there are things you can do to lower everyone’s stress levels which include developing a parenting agreement specifically designed to cover certain matters. Here are some of the education issues that may need to be addressed in a parenting agreement:
Type of School
Typically, children attend their local public school. However, if you are unhappy with the local school or your child has special needs they cannot meet, parents may want to consider other options such as a private school or homeschooling. In addition, you will need to decide who will cover education costs such as tuition, books, uniforms, and other related expenses. Parents will also want to establish who can change a child’s school, if needed.
Parents will need to decide who will attend school conferences. Sometimes, just one parent is elected to attend while keeping the other parent informed. If parents are amicable towards one another, they may both want to attend. Another alternative is to set up separate conferences for each parent.
It’s important for parents to participate in their children’s school activities. This could be helping out in the classroom, going on field trips, attending sporting, musical or other extracurricular events, or being involved with the parent-teacher association. Parents will need to decide if one or both can participate. They may want to alternate school functions, or simply designate one parent to be the main participant.
Emergency Contact Information
Parents will need resolve who should be the emergency contact on school forms and medical releases. Decide who has the authority to make medical decisions, and how information will be shared between parents. If both parents are to be listed on medical releases, consider who will be the first one contacted.
School Performance / Behavior
Parents often disagree on how a child’s school performance and behavior should be handled. Some parents reward good grades/behavior with money or gifts. Other parents feel privileges or allowances should be withheld when a child misbehaves or has poor grades. Decide in advance how good performance will be encouraged, and poor school performance should be handled.
If one or both parents do not want their children attending sex education classes, reading provocative or sensitive books, or participating in controversial classroom discussions while at school, parents will need to specify it in the agreement and notify the school accordingly.
A child’s education usually doesn’t end when they graduate from school. Many kids will choose some form of higher learning whether it’s at a university, college, technical, vocational or trade school. Parents should decide if they will continue to support their child in this regard and how it will be paid for. Sometimes, parents will set up a college fund they can contribute a set amount towards.
NOLO’s Building a Parenting Agreement That Works provides real world solutions and worksheets regarding common parenting issues including holiday parenting agreements.
If you need help working out a proactive parenting agreement for any type of family situation, please feel free to contact Dr. Susan K. Daniel, who is member of the Collaborative Family Law Group of Central Florida.