Planning for the school year following divorce

Any new school year in Michigan comes with an understandable range of emotions for children, from apprehension about new teachers and classes to excitement about playing favorite sports. For children adjusting to a post-divorce life that includes splitting time between two homes, there can be added stress associated with getting back to school, especially if the end of a marriage is fairly recent. It can be helpful for everyone involved to be on the same page with how school-related issues will be handled to make the transition easier for children.

A good starting point is for parents to get a clear idea of what goals their child has with academics and extra-curricular activities. If family law matters that may include a contentious divorce have made it difficult for group discussions to take place, the child may be able to discuss their expectations for the new school year separately with each parent. Parents might also want to develop an understanding of how extra expenses related to school activities will be handled. Some divorced couples prefer to split such costs evenly while others prefer to do it based on income. In some situations, it may be appropriate to determine how much a child can contribute with their own efforts.

The school calendar is another possible source of contention or misunderstandings among divorced parents. One solution is to use a website or app to allow all parties to have access to a school calendar so that updates can be made as necessary to keep everyone informed. Further issues may be minimized by determining how early dismissals and sick days will be handled and setting guidelines for homework responsibilities and processes in each household before the school year starts.

With a dispute that's minor, like what may happen if there's a need to a change visitation plans to accommodate a child's away sports games, a family law attorney may be able to reach a reasonable agreement between parents. If this isn't possible, legal options may include seeking court-determined modifications to visitation schedules, support payments or custody arrangements should there be serious issues.