It’s that time of year again –back to school!
If you have children and are divorced or are an unmarried parent, communicating with your ex about details and costs of extracurricular activities and school events can be challenging at best. This can be true even if your divorce or custody agreement addresses these issues in detail.
Ideally, your divorce or custody agreement should provide for how details of your children’s school events are shared and how you will determine which extracurricular activities your children will participate in and how they will be paid for.
If your divorce or custody agreement is silent on the following questions, it would be a good idea to consult with your lawyer about revising your agreement to address them or at least use them as a general guide in making joint decisions:
School Meetings and Events
- Will both parents receive school notices for events such as back to school night, teacher conferences, and scheduled meetings with the children’s teachers and Child Study Team members?
- Which parent is to be notified if your child is subjected to a child study team evaluation through the school? How will the other parent be notified of the results?
- Will both parents be entitled to attend meetings with the child study team following the submission of any evaluation? Will both parents consult and confer with each other before any proposed courses of action are implemented
- Will both parents be entitled to be present at your child’s sporting events even if the events take place outside of normal parenting time?
- How will you both receive notifications of scheduled team practices and games?
- What happens if there is a last minute change in the time, place, and nature of the sports practice or activity?
- How will you decide which activities each child will participate in?
- Will the parenting time schedule be adjusted in order to accommodate the child’s extracurricular activities?
- Will your co-parent be obligated to bring the child to his or her scheduled extracurricular activity during parenting time?
Payment for Extracurricular Activities
- Which extracurricular activities will be covered under child support payments?
- How will the costs for extracurricular activities for the children be shared?
Some divorce agreements provide that the child support obligation includes costs for routine extra-curricular activities for the children (such town recreational sports, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts dues, school supplies, fundraising, class trips, and instrument rentals). Also, many divorce agreements provide that certain specified activities, such as swimming, dance, and private musical instrument lessons, would be mutually agreed upon before any expenses is incurred.
What You Will Gain with a Plan
Keep in mind that agreeing on the above (preferably in a binding court order) can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees incurred in post-divorce litigation. Most importantly, however, effective co-parenting communication and cooperation is best for your children.
What If You Are Unable to Agree?
If your divorce agreement is silent on any of these issues and you find that you and your co-parent are unable to agree on a resolution, an excellent tool you can try is the Ourfamilywizard website. This online tool takes co-parenting communication to the next level. The minimal cost for a one year subscription can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees.
The website features a calendar for scheduling parenting time, including holidays, as well as children’s activities and social events so that both co-parents have equal access at any time. There is also an expense log that allows co-parents to share and track their expenses and payments from separate households.
Additional features include an information bank to store contacts, personal information about the children, such as clothing and shoe sizes, medical and school information, and a message board. This website is also used as a tool by family law judges, attorneys, and mediators to help co-parents reduce their chances of returning to court to resolve any disputes. Check it out at www.ourfamilywizard.com.
You could also contact a reputable family counselor who is uniquely qualified to resolve co-parenting conflicts.
Please feel free to call me at (973) 292-9090 with any questions concerning these issues.