If your child is going off to college this year, your custody agreement and parenting plan are likely ending. However, you now need to deal with the challenges of co-parenting a college student.
Now it’s your child who will largely decide how they’ll divide their time between the two of you whenever they come home, when they want either (or both) of you to come for a visit or event and how much they’ll communicate with you.
Even if the two of you are largely paying for tuition and room and board, that doesn’t mean you should hold that over their head whenever you want to spend time with them. If one of you is paying more than the other co-parent, your child shouldn’t have to factor that into those decisions.
The drop-off trip
If you haven’t done the drop-off yet, it’s important to work that out with your co-parent and your child. Co-parents often find it easier to split the drop-off duties so they aren’t together. Maybe one of you can provide the muscle of carrying things in and the other can help with shopping for anything else they need once they’re there.
Communication and help
Make sure your child feels free to text or call either one of you whenever they want and that you’re not keeping score of whom they reach out to more. If you’re both helping out with incidental expenses, though, it’s wise to keep a shared expense record on whatever co-parenting app you use so you’re both aware of how much money you’re giving them.
Co-ordinating visits home
Whether your child is coming home on the occasional weekend or only for longer breaks, it’s best if you both know where they are – at least for the first year. For winter and spring breaks, you have a right to plan in advance so you can work out holiday plans, vacation getaways and visits with extended family.
The more you make their visits home enjoyable and free of pressure and family drama, the more likely they’ll be to want to come home. That’s true for divorced and married parents.
It may help to make any modifications to child support or other divorce agreements now that your family has entered this new chapter. You may want to seek some legal guidance on updating your agreements.