Child support, custody, and parenting time are of utmost importance to divorcing parents. However, one area that may be neglected during the settlement is how life will continue to pan out when it comes to your children’s schooling. If you thought it was difficult to juggle school responsibilities when you were a two-parent household, it will become even more challenging post-divorce.
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Who’s the Designated Parent?
Of course, it is always important to try to show a united front for the sake of your children. But we all know that plenty of divorces are vicious and dirty, and there is only animosity coming from those involved. The last thing divorcing couples want to do is sit side-by-side in a parent-teacher conference or at a school play and play nice.
But you may not trust your former better half to report all the details back to you after an important parent-teacher meeting. And you may not trust that your former spouse will actually show up at the designated events. Being a divorced parent can make you feel obligated to take over every single responsibility when it comes to your child’s schooling. But that won’t be necessary if your divorce decree clearly spells out how every event and situation should be handled. Everything from access to school records, to who is called first when your child is sick at school should be listed clearly so there is no confusion.
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The Type of Custody Matters
Physical custody and legal custody are two completely different animals. The parent who has physical custody is who your child lives with the majority of the time. The parent(s) who has legal custody is in charge of making decisions for the child, whether it be about school, healthcare, or religion.
If both parents share the decision-making, the divorce decree should make it clear that one parent cannot make a life decision about their child without the written consent of the other parent. And that can include anything from joining a new sports team to going on an overnight field trip.
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Money, Money, Money
Money matters in a divorce can be contentious and difficult. Who’s getting what assets and who is responsible for what debt is difficult enough to decide. But who is footing the bill for school supplies? School clothes? Lunch? Sporting equipment? Class trips? Tuition? Activity fees? The cost of notebooks and binders add up, and taking on this financial obligation only breeds more resentment where there is already plenty of resentment to go around.
While the custodial parent may often be the one on tap to dig into their wallet, this is a responsibility that should not have to be handled alone. The non-custodial parent has a responsibility to chip in, and your divorce decree should include this partial payment as a requirement, whether it falls under basic child support or discretionary funds to be used for XYZ.
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Asking the School for Help
Divorce is not always easy, and when children are involved the situation can become even more fraught with tension. As you navigate through the ups and downs of your divorce, don’t hesitate to lean on your divorce attorney, and don’t hesitate to ask your child’s school for help. Most schools are willing to work with families that do not get along, that require two copies of documents, or that may need financial assistance in lieu of their new family situation. And if your divorce decree lays out rules about which parent may not, under any circumstances, pick up your child at school, warn the school so they can alert all staff of the situation.
Concerned that you’re missing something during your divorce when it comes to your child’s education? Contact a divorce attorney at Femminineo Attorneys, PLLC in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, to understand what needs to happen to keep your child provided for and safe.