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TOP 3 TIPS for separated parents to help returning to school “simples”

The arrangements for children returning to school after the long school holidays can be challenging at best, and even more so for separated parents. 

But it doesn’t need to be that way …

The Solicitors at Family Law Matters recognise the difficulties that can arise when these changes occur, and we want to share 3 tips to help to make the holiday-to-school transition easier for both parents and kids!

TIP 1: TIME

Review any Parenting Orders or Parenting Plan that may be in place to work out the children’s time with you and your ex once school resumes.  We would suggest marking out on a calendar “your” days for the year ahead, and your ex’s days.  You should also share this calendar with your ex so you are completely on the same page in terms of your respective care for the children.  If you are unsure on the arrangements as per the Orders/Plan, then speak to your Solicitor or Mediator for clarity. 

If you don’t have any Parenting Orders or a Parenting Plan in place, and you are sharing time with the children equally, we suggest returning to school arrangements could be as follows:

Block Time School Holiday Arrangement

  1. The parent who had the children the 1st half of the school holidays, could spend time with the children the first week/end back at school, and each alternate week/end thereafter; and
  2. The parent who had the children the 2nd half of the school holidays, could spend time with the children the second week/end back at school, and each alternate week/end thereafter.

“Week on / Week off” School Holiday Arrangement

  1. The parent who had the children the second last week of the school holidays, could spend time with the children the first week/end back at school, and each alternate week/end thereafter; and
  2. The parent who had the children the last week of the school holidays, could spend time with the children the second week/end back at school, and each alternate week/end thereafter.

If you don’t have an equal shared care arrangement, then consider what arrangements may be in the best interests of the children, and present these to your ex for discussion.  If you are unable to reach agreement on parenting arrangements, then we would suggest contacting a Solicitor for assistance in reaching a resolution. This does not necessarily mean going to court. In fact, the team at Family Law Matters do everything they can to keep good people out of court.

TIP 2: ACTIVITIES

We have created a step-by-step guide on arranging activities for your children with your ex.

Step 1: consider what activities you would like the children to be involved in this year.

Step 2: consider what activities you think your ex would like the children to be involved in, and whether you could facilitate these activities in “your” time with the children. 

Remember that if you agree to take the children (during “your” time) to an activity you know your ex would like the children to participate in, then your ex is more likely to agree to take the children to an activity (during “his/her” time) you would like the children to do.

Step 3: ask the children (depending on their age), what activities they would like to enjoy this year.

Step 4: arrange a meeting with your ex to discuss these activities, or alternatively send an email with your thoughts on this.

Step 5: if you reach agreement – add these activities to your (shared) calendar! Well done – the steps stop here for you.

Step 6: if you are unable to reach agreement on these activities then consider these questions –

Is this an activity where the children can miss lessons/games in the time your ex has the children?

Would your ex agree that you pick up the children and take them to the activity during your ex’s time with them?

Is enrolling the children in this activity going to set a bad example of teamwork where your ex does not agree to take the children to this activity, and they miss lessons/games?

Depending on your thoughts to the above, you may re-consider whether it is best for the children to be enrolled in those activities at all, or try to negotiate further with your ex to reach agreement. 

Step 7: if you have come to an impasse in reaching an agreement on extra-curricular activities for the children, speak to a Solicitor or Mediator to facilitate further discussion on this.

TIP 3: ROUTINE

Here are our suggestions on helping get the children back into a routine in 3 simple steps!

  1. Plan out a typical day with the children – what time they wake up, eat breakfast, attend school, complete homework, bedtimes, and so on. 

  2. Arrange a meeting with your ex to share the details on a typical day in your household and listen to how a typical day is run in your ex’s household.  Discuss a consistent routine for the children (considering both household schedules) as this will provide more stability for the children.

  3. Enjoy it!  You and your ex will both see the benefits of a consistent routine as the children begin their busy schedules once school recommences.