Back to School Blues…

If you are a divorced or separated parent, it is never too early to think about the upcoming school year since 52% of 3 and 4 year old children are enrolled in preschool or kindergarten; and, 59% of children 6 to 17 years of age participate in at least one extracurricular activity. (U.S. Census Bureau, August 11, 2003).

Therefore, while summer brings sunny and fun days, your children’s school and extracurricular schedules are looming and brewing the potential for conflict unless addressed before the school year commences.

The best advice to insure your children’s smooth transition to their new school year is to review your existing custody arrangement and determine if there are any conflicts for either parent with the children’s upcoming schedules. If a conflict exists, then working to resolve the conflict with each other, or with the assistance of a mediator, will be the most cost effective and satisfying alternative.

Besides the school schedule, the other large source of conflict is extracurricular activities. Parents should meet and confer on the extracurricular activities the children are to participate in so they can cooperate in insuring the children’s participation. If a parent unilaterally chooses to enroll a child in any activity, it is critical that the activity not conflict with the other parent’s custodial time. If such unilateral enrollment occurs, the enrolling parent should be aware that they may be solely responsible for the cost of the activity, unless a court order provides otherwise.

If it is clear the conflict cannot be resolved amicably, then it is important that one or both parents seek legal advice as soon as possible. The litigation process, which could involve a child custody evaluation performed by a mental health professional, could take months to resolve.

Therefore, it is important to keep in mind, that with a little planning, you can prevent the back to school blues for you and your children.

Marlo Van Oorschot, Esq. is a Family Law Attorney and Mediator in West Los Angeles. Ms. Van Oorschot can be contacted at (310) 820-3414; or For further information on litigation and mediation of a family law matter, please visit