As the school year begins, many parents look forward to the structure and routine that homework and extracurricular activities will bring to their children’s lives, but for families of divorce this time can prove to be quite a challenge. It is important to remember that by avoiding unnecessary conflict, the school year can be relatively stress-free for divorced families.
In order to get ahead of possible school year disputes, divorced parents should design, implement, and comply with a customized parenting plan. The parenting plan will serve as a guide map and provide all involved parties with specific conditions and terms under which they are to operate, in turn leaving no room for misunderstandings.
Parents should come to an agreement on expectations relating to school work. A few points to consider include:
• Who will help with daily assignments and ensure that they are turned in correctly and on time?
• Who will help with research projects that may span multiple weeks?
• Who will help study for exams?
There is no “correct” answer to the above questions, but a well-designed parenting plan that identifies everyone’s roles and responsibilities will help to ensure academic performances do not suffer. At this time, parents may also want to consider who will chaperone field trips and who will attend parent- teacher conferences. Step parent involvement should also be discussed at this time. Agreeing to specific arrangements ahead of time can help prevent “surprises” and uncomfortable moments.
It is also important to fully discuss after-school activities and sports, and take into consideration both safety and financial implications at this time. Points to consider include:
• Will extra-curricular activities unduly burden one parent?
• Will time-sharing be negatively affected?
• Will there be adequate time for homework and studying?
Although you and your spouse are no longer together, it is imperative that you work as a team for the benefit of your children. By creating an effective parenting plan, you can ensure a successful school year for everyone involved.
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Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.
Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.
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