No matter how long you’ve been divorced, back-to-school time gets a little complicated. Now COVID-19 has made the transition from summertime to school days even more stressful. Parents are looking at an abnormal school year ahead. These combined complications make it a challenge for divorced Michigan parents to honor their parenting plan and keep kids’ best interests at the forefront. Here are tips to make it work.
Agree on an Educational Plan
Every educational decision for your child falls under legal custody – including where and when to send your child to school. You may want to keep your child at home to do distance learning if your school district offers that as an option, or you may want to try homeschooling. Your ex may want your child to be in the classroom no matter the social distancing precautions and unknown risks.
If you have joint legal custody, disagreeing over where your child will be at the start of the school year is not an option. Your child’s schooling is a decision that you must make and agree on together now. Here are some options:
- Acknowledge the reality. Your child’s world is in flux. They spent three months away from school and on a computer trying to learn. Summer has likely been unusual without camps or frequent playdates. Now they’re facing a fall in a school environment that will be foreign to them or they’re looking at another several months quarantined at home.
- Work together. You may not have had an amicable divorce with your ex, but for the sake of your kids and everyone’s sanity, working together now is the best thing you can do. Discuss all the options and alternatives available to your kids for schooling and the logistics of making each one happen successfully according to your parenting time plan and work schedules.
- Be empathetic. You know your ex has elderly parents who live with him or her. Or maybe your ex has a compromised immune system and cannot withstand elevated health risks. Sending your kids to school compromises their quarantine and the health of others. You don’t want to keep your children apart from their other parent because of an educational decision, but you feel strongly about them being in school. At some point, you may have to bend to ensure that everyone in your child’s orbit remains as safe and healthy as possible.
- Get help. Consult with a parent coordinator – an expert who helps you manage conflict so you can co-parent your children successfully – to help you work through the impasse you and your ex have reached because of COVID-related educational decisions. Or reach out to your pediatrician to assess the risks of sending your child back to school based on the child’s health and the health and safety of the members of both your households.
- Talk to your divorce attorney. If you and your co-parent simply cannot reach an agreement over how to manage your child’s education this school year, you may need to reach out to your divorce lawyer to determine whether you have the option to file a motion with the court to have your wishes recognized. During this busy and chaotic time, getting before a judge is likely to be delayed. It is in your best interest to work together to figure out your own parenting plan.
If you need support, contact the family law attorneys at Femminineo Attorneys in Macomb, MI, to schedule a meeting.