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With a new school year upon us, the question of homework will inevitably come up. Maybe not in the first week, but certainly shortly after that. But two households doesn’t mean double the homework.

When your kids go back and forth between two households, it’s easy to lose a few things in the shuffle. Although the child custody agreement that you, your ex and your lawyer worked out will become routine for your whole family, it’s important that you and your ex provide your kids with as much support as possible. That includes sticking to schedules kids can rely on no matter where they are, keeping tabs on house rules and helping with homework by any means necessary… even if it means calling your ex for his or her expertise in a certain area.

Routines: Set and Stick

While it might be hard for you to work with your ex and set up a schedule that you’ll both stick to, your kids will appreciate knowing what to expect. Try to agree when kids will do homework—immediately after school or right after dinner—at each of your houses. That way, you’ll know that they have the benefit of comfortable routines at your house and at your ex’s house.

Homework: Who Helps with What?

If mom’s a math whiz and dad’s an award-winning writer, it makes sense that each parent helps kids with the subjects they know best. When your kids come to you for help with homework and you’re not sure you’re able to point them in the right direction, but you know your ex can, it’s okay to make the call. In fact, you should call your ex. Turn on the phone’s speaker function and work through the problem together.

Yes, you’ll probably be uncomfortable. Your ex might be, too. But what you’re doing is presenting a united parenting front that serves two purposes: it shows your kids that you’re both willing to do whatever it takes to help them succeed, and it gets your kids the homework help they need while showing them that learning can be a collaborative process.

Hiring a Tutor

It’s common for kids to struggle in certain subject areas, and many parents turn to tutors for assistance. If you choose to hire a tutor for your kids, make sure they have access to each other from your ex’s house. Since your lawyer will probably encourage you to work with your ex whenever possible, you should discuss hiring a tutor before you actually do it. In this way, your ex has a heads-up about the plan and that you have discussed that you expect both of you to contribute equally. But most of all, so that you both know that there is someone to call for help during hours of harried homework.

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