Back to School! But Not Really… Navigating Online Schooling After a Divorce

The Covid19 pandemic has changed pretty much everything about life as we know it. Not being able to eat out at restaurants, meet friends for a drink at the bar, or go grocery shopping without a mask are only the tip of the “new normal” iceberg. Life is totally upside down, and for mid-Michigan parents who recently got divorced, or who are in the middle of a divorce, online schooling is just one more aspect of this life-altering global pandemic that they have to navigate. And it’s not easy, for parents or for kids!

 birds eye view of a school desk containing a lap top, books, pencils, a notepad, and a cell phone.

Online school means someone needs to be with the kids.

Many, if not most kids in Michigan are schooling online right now. That means they’re home all day, attending class virtually through a computer screen, and needing supervision to keep them on task. Which is no problem if you’re a stay-at-home parent, or even a work-from-home parent whose kids don’t need constant oversight. But what if you’re an essential worker who can’t stay home? Or a work-from-home parent whose job doesn’t allow for the freedom to monitor your kids? What do you do if you’re newly divorced and parenting alone, and your kids need you during the school day but you have to work? 

Solutions to consider for working parents with kids who school online:

If your work commitments make it so that you aren’t available to oversee your children during their virtual school hours, you may need to get creative in solving your virtual school schedule. Here are a few options you could consider:

  • Talk to the other parent about adjusting their parenting time so that they keep the kids during the school day, and you get them for the evenings and overnights
  • If your ex stepping in to help isn’t an option, consider changing your shift so that you’re working at a different time from your kids’ school hours.
  • See if you have a friend or relative who could watch your kids while they attend online school and you work
  • Discuss options with your child’s school – is it possible to adjust learning times so they can ‘attend’ class while you’re not at work?
  • Look into what supports your job may offer. Can you adjust some of your working times? Can you do some parts of your job remotely from home? Does your office offer in-house work spaces for children of employees?
  • If your kids are older, consider leaving them alone at home and having friends or relatives check in randomly to ensure that they’re staying on task (as much as that’s possible when you’re not there to police them yourself)
  • Find out about learning centers, community centers, and places like the YMCA in your community that offer places for kids with working parents to attend virtual school during the day. It will likely cost you something, but it may be the only option available to some.

Custody issues can be even tougher during the pandemic. 

Unfortunately for some parents, their work commitments may mean that the other parent gets more time with the children, simply because they’re available to oversee virtual schooling time. This may seem unfair, but remember that school time isn’t as ‘fun’ for parents or kids, and shouldn’t be held against them. And if you keep your focus on your kids’ needs, making sure that your decisions are made based on what’s best for them, it’ll feel less unfair in the long run. Remember, this is an unprecedented time but it won’t last forever. And your ex didn’t necessarily ask to be a homeschooler, so don’t resent them if they can have the kids during this time and you can’t.

Make sure you get help from attorneys who understand your situation

Here at The Kronzek Firm we can help you address your quarantine-related custody concerns. Whether it’s a parenting time issue, or needing to modify a custody agreement, we can help you. We’ve spent decades helping parents from all over mid-Michigan, including Lansing, Jackson, Dewitt, St. John’s and Okemos. We can help you too. Our skilled family law attorneys can be reached through our main office in Lansing at (517) 886-1000. We’re open and are accepting new clients. Call to schedule your free zoom consultation today.