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Coordinating field trips and school lunches as divorced parents

Have your kids just gone back to school for the first time since you and your spouse broke up, or are they switching to a new school this fall?

If the two of you are sharing custody of your kids, you've likely been concerned with making sure the school has contact information for both of you, and you've discussed how to handle parent-teacher conferences, homework assignments and projects. However, there are a couple of aspects of school life that become unnecessarily stressful and complicated for kids if their parents don't communicate and plan for them.

Field trips

Field trips generally involve permission slips that have to be signed and returned on time. If your child gives one of you the permission slip to sign, make sure your co-parent is aware of the details of the trip. There may be a fee involved. Often, schools ask for volunteer chaperones.

Don't let your child be left out of a trip because you and your co-parent has been quibbling over who will pay for it. Likewise, even if you've signed the permission slip, paid the fee and volunteered to help out, make sure your co-parent knows about it. Perhaps they can volunteer to chaperone the next one. Field trips can be a memorable part of any child's school year. They should be able to share these experiences with both parents.

School lunches

Even if you weren't the one who packed your child's lunch when you lived together as a family, if you're the one taking them to school one or more mornings a week, take the time to pack a good lunch either at night or in the morning. Find out what your child likes, and have everything you need in your home.

If your child buys lunch at school, they may be on a meal plan. This should be covered in the parenting agreement or your child support order. However you handle it, be sure that your child never has the embarrassing experience of being denied a meal at school because the meal plan payment hasn't been made or you haven't given them the money they need to buy lunch.

Raising children across two households requires managing a lot of logistics. It's critical to handle these with your co-parent and not to involve your child or for them to suffer because their parents didn't plan ahead or couldn't reach an agreement.

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