The beginning of a new school year is exciting. However, it also tends to create tension in custody arrangements since routines and schedules may shift. Parental custody is initially determined during the divorce proceedings, but over time it will be necessary to reevaluate the custody agreement to reflect life changes as your child grows up. Here are some possible issues that you may encounter before a new school year:
Changes in Your Child’s Schedule
A new school year means getting used to a new routine. If your child becomes involved in an extra-curricular sport or activity, schedules will need to shift to accommodate practices or rehearsals and weekend games. This may affect the amount of time that parents get to spend with children, or pickup and dropoff arrangements.
Money is always a point of tension. Even with child support firmly in place, there are other costs that will come up. Which parent will be responsible for back-to-school shopping for clothes and supplies? There are also costs of sports involvement or extra-curricular activities and one-time events like homecoming or prom. As your child grows older, co-parents may need to determine whether allowance is appropriate.
A New School
Your child may be attending a new school. This happens over the years as your child advances through grades. It may also result from a child getting diagnosed with a specific learning disability or special needs. Deciding between private school options, public schooling, or the two parents’ different locations and resources can produce conflicts that were not addressed in the original custody agreement. A new school location could change the time and distance from parent’s residences or introduce new bus schedules or pick-up times. Remember that your child’s school will need to be apprised of any changes in the custody agreement.
Communicating Effectively During Back to School Upheaval
No matter what changes or issues the new school year brings up for your family, find a way to communicate and cooperate that isn’t stressful for your child (and ideally for you too!) Take advantage of the technology available that enables seamless communication. Coordinating schedules is easier than ever now that it’s possible to link calendars, create event notifications and send parental reminders: (i.e. “Don’t forget the soccer cleats!”) Additionally, you may find it helpful to set up a shared file (Google Docs or DropBox) with important information: school schedules, pick-up and drop-off agreements, emergency information, important contacts, or expense logs.
As your child is growing older you may consider letting them have a say in what arrangement they would prefer for weekends, holidays, or trips. Since they are the one that is going back and forth between parents, including your child in the decision helps you to be more aware of their needs and makes your child to feel a little more in control of their situation.
Contact Us for Help Resolving Updates to Custody Agreements
Whatever issues and tensions the school year brings up, first try and find a way to resolve them between you and your ex-spouse. It would be beneficial to use mediation or arbitration to work things out. As life situations change, make sure that the custody agreement still works for everyone involved, and continues to prioritize your child’s needs and well-being.
If you would like to discuss your custody concerns or need help determining how to modify your custody agreement, seek the experience and professionalism of the Simon Law Group. Contact us at (480) 568-1141 for more information.