Back to School - Considerations for Separated Parents
February is 'back to school' time, and families everywhere are rushing around organising their school shoes, uniforms, lunchboxes and other supplies! But for many families, what is already a stressful time, can be made even more difficult if the parents are separated or divorced.
For example, when families also have to negotiate agreements as to how much time the children spend with each parent, where the children will live and who is responsible for the day-to-day care and transport of children to and from school it can all add to the stress.
If your relationship with your spouse has broken down and there are school-aged children involved you need to consider the following:
· Who will make the day-to-day decisions concerning schooling and education for your children?
· Who will be dropping off and picking up the children on a daily basis?
· Are the channels of communication between you and your former spouse open? Can you discuss any issues that arise throughout the year regarding school?
· Who should the school contact first in the event of an emergency?
· Which parent should receive notes and communication from the school?
Whilst some of these considerations may seem obvious, it is always best to try and have everything clear and agreed upon from the start - to avoid potential disagreements and conflict in the future.
In addition to the basic issues listed above, some families are also the subject of Parenting Orders which are enforceable by the Court. That means that there are strict rules regarding day-to-day contact, time spent with each parent, collection, and in the case of families where violence has been a problem, there may be orders preventing contact by a parent or other family member.
It is very important that your child's school has a copy of any Parenting Orders that apply to your family. A school will usually ask for a copy of any Parenting Orders when you first enrol your child but if the Orders are made after your child has been at the school for a while, or if they are changed in any way, then you need to ensure the updated Orders are given to the school.
As always, the key for separated parents is to try and minimise conflict and potential stress for the children. A little extra time spent planning and organising arrangements concerning school can make a big difference as to how smoothly things run for your children.
For more information on Parenting Orders or advice on Parenting Agreements contact one of our experienced family lawyers on tel: 02 4731 5688.