Sep 16, 2021
Back to School for KIDS and TEENS
Back to school is filled with anticipation, high hopes and sometimes a bit of anxiety. If the parents are in the midst of a divorce, the anxiety for parents and children may be off the charts. In our parenting mediations at the ALPHA CENTER, we address many issues, including how to navigate school issues when the family creates a second home.
Debbie Schneider, Esquire an attorney-mediator at Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation, discusses navigating school issues when parents are in the midst of divorce.
The first task of the parenting mediation is the creation of the overnight schedule, i.e., where the children will actually be every night. While shared physical custody is the gold standard for many couples, the reality is that school has an extraordinary impact on the parenting/custody schedules for many families.
Once a custody schedule builds in the realities of the school schedule both for elementary and high school students, then we ask the parents to consider all of the philosophical ramifications of two households. Topics such as communication between the parents when the children are in the custody of the other parent, discipline consistency, the accessibility and sharing of all records, including school records, the bus schedule so that children have the best chance of being picked up from both houses, and an explicit commitment to make all decisions about school jointly.
There are financial concerns that must be negotiated, such as who pays for the school supplies, the school uniforms, and if there is school tuition, how will that be addressed. If scholarships are needed, the parties need to act together to provide accurate information to the schools that afford the greatest opportunity to receive often much needed financial aid.
Now, of course, COVID has impacted school for all children, whether their parents are seeking a divorce, or not. All of the usual school issues can be overshadowed by the urgency to seek vaccines for students over 12, and for those under 12, how to keep them safe. For divorcing parents my best advice is to always, always, act in the best interest of your elementary and high school age children.