By James S. Margulis, Esq.
Late August/Early September obviously bring the excitement of a new school year to children and their families across the country.
For divorced parents, this exciting time can definitely bring new challenges, especially to those parents who only recently divorced.
There are two pivotal issues for divorced parents as the new school year begins. The first issue is the increased expenses that occur at the beginning of the school year. These expenses can include, but are not limited to clothing, supplies, books, extracurricular activities and sports. Most divorce decrees address these expenses and most decrees state that the parents should equally share in these expenses. While that is nice in theory, often times, the money is just not there. Most of these decrees also state that the parties shall agree and approve the extracurricular activities that the children are going to participate in. At times, this process can be difficult. While most parents will want their children to participate in these activities, they might not have an extra $300.00 for soccer or an extra $120.00 for the uniforms.
Obviously, communication is the key. If at all possible, the divorced parents need to sit down and discuss what activities and expenses they can reasonably afford and then choose the activities and expenses that fit into their budget.
If the parties are unable to communicate, it is often wise to appoint a Parenting Coordinator/Decision Maker who will help facilitate making these types of decisions.
By working together on the front end, the parents will spare their children the angst and disappointment that will ensue otherwise.
The second critical issue for divorced parents to review as their children enter the school year is the timesharing schedule. While typically this has already been addressed in the Decree, it is important that the parents review the schedule given the totality of the circumstances regarding the new school year and the role that sports and extracurricular activities play. The schedule that was originally set forth in the Decree may not accommodate the updated schedule and may not be in the children's best interest. Further, the parent's work schedules must be accounted for as well. The goal is to achieve a global plan that allows the flow to be as natural as possible.
Thus, while the start of a new school year is always exciting, it can also be incredibly stressful for divorced parents. Ideally, the parents will work together and communicate to address all of these issues for the best interest of the children, and quite frankly, for their own quality of life.
Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann & Nagel, LCC to address any of these back to school issues and for all of your family law needs.