Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler, P.C.

Handling back-to-school time as a divorced parent

Autumn is almost here, and with that comes cooler weather, changing leaves, and a new school year. As you and your child get ready, you likely have a long list of school supplies to purchase, new clothes to buy, textbooks to get and adjustments to make in your home to accommodate school start/end times and extracurricular activities.

If you are divorced, you may have additional worries, including determining whether your child's school schedule will impact your current custody and parenting time arrangement, as well as what - if any - information you need to share with the school regarding your unique family situation.

Non-traditional families may need accommodations or special arrangements

Some parents, particularly those who divorced when their children were very young and weren't yet in school, may need to make formal modifications to their parenting time schedules in order to accommodate school attendance. In some circumstances, this could include a full change of custody or an adjustment to visitation/parenting time.

For example, if the parents had a preexisting arrangement of joint custody where the child alternated nights at each parent's home, it may be more beneficial, to ensure a good adjustment to the new school schedule, for the child to spend weekdays with only one of them. Court involvement - like the intervention of a family court judge - could be necessary to determine whether a proposed change in custody or parenting time is in the child's best interests.

It could also be beneficial to inform the school of unique or blended family situations. This will ensure that, when appropriate, both parents are kept in the proverbial loop about school assignments, report cards, special events, etc. Conversely, if one parent or another family member has been ordered to have no contact with the child, then the school (including teachers, administrators, social workers and guidance counselors, as appropriate) should be informed of that as well, so that no information will be improperly shared.

If you have questions about how your divorce could potentially impact the school attendance and performance of your children, consult a local family law attorney.

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