There are common back-to-school issues many divorced and single parents face as summer vacation comes to an end. As children and parents prepare for a new school year, there are a number of issues that arise in family law related matters. From school selection to parenting time schedules, last-minute vacations and school supplies and uniform shopping, it’s an especially crazy time for blended families.
Here are some key things to remember as you and your child get ready for the back-to-school rush and related issues to avoid in Family Court:
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Coordinating schedules is one of the most significant challenges for divorced or single parents during the back-to-school season. Different households may have different routines, making it crucial to establish open communication and a reliable shared calendar. Online tools and apps can help parents keep track of important dates, such as parent-teacher conferences, extracurricular activities, and school events. Set up a digital shared calendar where both parents can input their schedules. Regularly update the calendar and ensure both parents have access. Consider streamlining communication using apps like Google Calendar, Our Family Wizard, or Cozi. It’s a good idea to try out a few different ones to see which one works best for your co-parenting needs. Additionally, make sure to discuss the choice of app with your co-parent to ensure that both parties are comfortable with the platform and its features.
Choice of School is NOT an Emergency
Perhaps you have wanted to change your child’s school for some time, and the other parent won’t agree. This is not an emergency.
Any issue that does not qualify as an emergency must be agreed to for a Court to enter an order on any given matter that is not properly before it in a pending case. I have heard more times than I can count Judges say to litigants and their attorneys that they have “known school starts in August or September all year long – it starts in these months every year, it isn’t an emergency!”
Bringing an emergency of this nature is not likely to be looked upon happily by a Judge.
Avoid Tardies and School Absences at All Costs
If you are the residential parent for school purposes and your child is consistently late in arriving at school, the responsibility for excessive tardies will likely to fall on you. If the other parent brings a motion to Family Court concerning your child’s absences and/or tardies, that, coupled with poor academic performance, may be grounds to make some changes to the current arrangement.
Likewise, if you are not the residential parent for school purposes and you have the minor child overnight and they arrive late, are absent, or don’t complete assignments, that, too, can cause some changes to the current arrangement.
School Supplies – Who’s Going to Pay?
Each new school year brings a long list of school supplies that must be purchased. Some parents agree to split school supplies out of the goodness of their hearts. However, most parenting agreements don’t provide for this unless the parties specifically agree to it or unless there is some “catch-all” language regarding school expenses that includes it.
First Day of School
For most parents and children, the first day of school can be charged with a mix of emotions. For students, the excitement of seeing old friends and meeting a new teacher helps them look forward to a new year. At the same time, it’s normal for them to be a bit nervous about starting the new school year. As parents, it can be a sentimental day that reminds you just how quickly they’re growing up. Make the first day of school less overwhelming for them by working together so everyone can enjoy this special day.
Back-to-school issues can be complex for divorced and single parents. Still, these challenges can be navigated successfully with effective communication, thoughtful planning, and a focus on the child’s well-being. By working together and prioritizing your child’s needs, you can create a supportive and positive environment that helps your child thrive academically and emotionally. When issues or questions arise regarding the allocation of parental responsibility, contact Anderson & Boback’s family law attorneys for legal advice and guidance you can trust.