It's that time of year again -- not the Minnesota State Fair, but back to school time. All of the excitement and nervousness of starting a new year fresh is beginning to bubble... fresh backpacks, notebooks, textbooks... as the excitement increases, so does the cost. For divorced and divorcing parents, it is important to plan as much as possible for the school year before it begins, in terms of finances and time, to make the transition from the fun of summer to the fun of school as smooth as possible for children.
Before the year starts winding up, take the time to sit down together and talk it all through. Create a schedule for pick-ups, extracurricular activities, packing lunches, all of it. The more structured it can be, the less there will be to dispute later. Be sure to talk about spending and budgeting for the new year; it's inevitable that kids will need new things before school starts. Decide who will be paying for the supplies and who will be taking the kids shopping. Be sure to highlight what is necessary and what isn't (before one of the kids comes home with a new iPod and a cell phone) so there are no surprises.
Keep communication open through the year. It may be difficult to always share information that comes home from the school, so see if they can notify both of you equally, or be sure to make copies of all communication. The more open you can be, the less there is to argue about later.
The start of the school year is an exciting time for your children and your family as a whole. By focusing on your children, you and your ex- or soon to be ex-spouse can plan ahead to begin the school year on a good foot.
Source: The Washington Times, "Back to school tips for divorced parents," Myra Fleischer, Aug. 20, 2012
Our firm handles cases of divorce, child support and child custody. For more information about shared parenting, visit our Minnesota parenting time page.