You just attended your child’s high school graduation. The last thing you want to think about is that time in a few months when you’ll be dropping them off at college. If you’re a separated or divorced parent, however, it’s important to work some things with your co-parent to help all of you (especially your child) transition into this new phase with as little stress as possible.
Even if you’ve worked out the biggest issue for most parents (married or divorced), which is how you’ll pay for your child’s college education, there are plenty of other things you’ll need to navigate. Let’s look at just two.
Avoid drop-off drama
Driving their child to college and helping them move in is a big event for a lot of parents. If you both want to participate, find a way to share the chores if you don’t think you can manage a day or two together.
For example, one of you can drive your child and help them unload their stuff, while the other comes the following day to help them get settled and shop for anything they forgot. Let your child tell you what they’d prefer.
Coordinate visits home
Whether your child will be far enough away that you’ll only see them during extended breaks or they’ll be back every other weekend to do laundry, it’s probably best to let them decide how they want to divide their time now that it’s up to them and not dependent on a custody agreement.
The important thing is not to make them feel guilty if they don’t split their time between you evenly. Their decision about where to stay may be based on what’s convenient for them rather than on which parent they want to be with.
The same goes for which one of you they call or text the most. They likely turn to each of you for different things. That doesn’t mean you and your co-parent shouldn’t communicate if one of you learns about any serious issues.
While you may no longer need a traditional parenting plan, it may be helpful to work out some things like how you and your co-parent will co-ordinate visits to your child’s college, helping them with miscellaneous expenses and other issues you’ll be dealing with as co-parents. Having sound legal guidance always helps.