If you are a divorced or separated parent, it is never too early to think about the upcoming 2011-2012 school year. While winter brings the holidays, 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 child custody orders and determine if there are any conflicts for either parent with the children’s upcoming schedules. If a conflict existed last year, chances are it will recur this year. Working to resolve the conflict with the other parent, or with the assistance of a mediator, will be the most cost-effective and satisfying alternative to litigation. It is better to be proactive about resolving these conflicts rather than enduring another year of angry parents and disappointed children.
Besides the school schedule, another source of bitter conflict is extracurricular activities. Parents should meet and confer to choose in which extracurricular activities the children will participate. 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 the conflict cannot be resolved amicably, one or both parents should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Family law courts are set up to assist parents and resolve these types of issues. The litigation process could take months until you actually have your day in court. 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.