Back to school often means back to the drawing board for divorced parents and their children. Getting back into the education groove can lead to changes in custody schedules, extra financial burdens and often additional activities for the children.
The start of the school year means that the co-parents revert to the regular parenting time schedule, which may include alternating weekends and mid-week parenting time under the 2013 Indiana Parenting Guidelines (IPTG) or week on and week off or split weeks for shared parenting time. Parties should make their own agreements as to holidays and when that is not possible then they must follow the IPTG.
All that back to school shopping, books, school supplies and costs of extracurricular activities can prove expensive. Public school fees, such as books, are considered a controlled expense in Indiana and should be paid for by the custodial parent, unless a court order says otherwise. That’s because that parent is typically the one who receives child support. In cases where there is shared physical custody, the parents may be ordered to pay all such costs pro rata in accordance with incomes or they can decide who is going to be responsible for these expenses if no child support is exchanged. In all cases, private school tuition and extracurricular activity expenses must be agreed upon by the parents or decided by a court order.
It’s important to sit down at the start of the school year and make plans for how the parents will deal with things like school events, vacations and sick or snow days. It is normally the “on-duty” parent who must find child care in the event of an unexpected day off from school and pay any related expenses.
When possible, both parents should plan to attend parent-teacher conferences. Keep in mind that the State of Indiana requires you to notify the other parent of all organized events in a child’s life that permit parental participation. It’s important to be a team for the child and the stability of their education…so put your differences aside and attend together. Also, each parent should arrange access to all online information from each of the children’s schools to ensure they receive everything available.
Communication and Routine
Take the time when kids head back to school to let your children’s teachers know about your family and the divorce. That way they won’t be caught off guard if a stepparent shows up. The teacher can also be watching for any unusual behavior from your child that could indicate they are having problems dealing with the divorce.
It’s incredibly important for both the parents and children to develop a steady routine and then stick with it every day. That means doing homework and eating dinner at the same time, no matter in which house the children are located.
A stable routine can only happen if you do your best to communicate with your former spouse and maintain a civil tone. Remember, you’re not doing them a favor by being polite…you’re doing what is in the best interests of your children by making things easier for them.
- Posted by Mary Foley Panszi
- On August 22, 2016
- 0 Comments