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Co-Parenting During the School Year: Be Realistic and Take Your Children’s Concerns Seriously

June 19, 2020

If you and your spouse separated during the summer, then by August, you are probably just getting used to having your children with you only some of the time. Maybe you even have a temporary parenting plan in place. When the school years begins, you may be in for a whole new set of challenges. It is hard enough for children to adjust to having two households and to not being able to spend time with both parents together, but having to do it while also going to school is even more stressful. The family law attorneys at Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh can help you draft a temporary or permanent plan for the coming school year.

Parenting Plans for School-Aged Children

No two parenting plans are alike, although the goal of the Pennsylvania family courts is to divide the parents’ time with the children as close to equally as possible. This goal is much easier to achieve with very young children. Some families use one of the following parenting schedules with infants and preschool-aged children, but they are not practical once the child enters kindergarten:

  • Three hours with Dad every evening, and the rest of the time with Mom

  • Sunday to Wednesday afternoon with Mom, and Wednesday afternoon until Saturday evening with Dad

When the children are in school, the vast majority of families choose to have the children spend every school night with the same parent; it is much simpler to have the child’s textbooks, school clothes, and school-issued computer all in one place. With school-aged children, the more important question to answer in parenting plans is about how many days of parenting time each parent gets when the children are not in school. If your ex-spouse gets 240 days of parenting time and you only get 125, but all of your days are non-school days, you and your ex might be spending an approximately equal amount of time with your children.

Respecting the Wishes of School-Aged Children

The children’s needs are more important than the needs of the parents when deciding on a parenting plan, although it is certainly possible to modify your parenting plan if your work schedule changes, thus changing the times when you are available to spend time with your children. If your children tell you what they do and don’t like about your current co-parenting setup, you should take their views seriously. Maybe your child wants to spend every other weekend with Dad instead of every weekend so he can spend some weekends playing with his friends who live in Mom’s apartment building; you can always give Dad more days in the summer to accommodate this change. The older the children are, the more weight the court gives to their requests. Sometimes teenagers even speak directly with the judge about how much time they would like to spend with each parent. If the children are in elementary school, a therapist or guardian ad litem may submit a statement reporting the children’s requests about parenting time.

Iwanyshyn & Associates Helps Divorced Couples Co-Parent Their School-Aged Children

When your children start school, you may need to modify your parenting schedule. Contact Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh & Western PA for help with your parenting plan. 🡺 412-419-3448