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Will your school-time parenting plan make the grade?

You may be among numerous California parents who finalized their divorces at the end of the last school year or during the summer. In that case, you haven't really had the chance to test the school-time parenting plan you negotiated during the divorce.

As your children make their way back to school here in Santa Rosa, you will more than likely be implementing a new schedule for the school year. The summer may have gone well, so your hopes are high, but you may encounter roadblocks that you didn't anticipate.

Communication is key

During the summer, schedules are more relaxed, but once the school year starts, a series of deadlines come into play. Who will drop off the children, who will pick them up and what about extracurricular activities? What happens if you or the other parent has to work late? Do you each have contingency plans in case one of you has to work late or some other last minute obligation arises?

You could communicate via texts or phone calls with the understanding that each of you expects a timely response. There are phone apps that can help you keep on task, keep track of the children's schedules and keep track of which parent does what and at what time. Each of you may need to be flexible enough to account for last minute changes in the schedule.

Speaking of changes...

Too many last minute schedule changes could mean that whatever plan you came up with may not be working well. You may need to consider making some changes to the schedule. More than likely, both of you wanted to have as much time with the children as possible, and you may have made some decisions without considering how they would look in reality. This happens to many parents and, hopefully, only requires some tweaking to the schedule.

If you and the other parent get along well (at least as it applies to being parents), you may have incorporated a mechanism in your parenting plan to adjust the schedule based on whether it serves the children's best interests. It is difficult to create a plan that can anticipate every need or change as the children age, so if there is some flexibility, it would help. For instance, if you previously spent a couple of nights a week having dinner and fun time with the kids, those plans may now have to change in lieu of football practice, music lessons or some other school activity.

Alternatively, you may need to make some adjustments to your parenting plan that require the approval of the court. This helps ensure that they are enforceable if necessary. If you have any doubts or questions regarding the need to modify your parenting plan, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney.

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