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Will back-to-school season spark child custody issues?

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2023 | Child Custody And Support |

Like most parents in Missouri and across the country, you’ve no doubt been helping your children prepare for a new school year. If you also happen to be one of many parents who filed for divorce over the summer, then you and your ex will be navigating your first back-to-school season as former spouses. By thinking ahead and making sure you have written detailed terms of agreement, you can lock in a child custody order that helps you avoid legal problems during the school year.

On the contrary, if you do not have a solid agreement in place, any number of everyday school events or issues can spark legal problems, which, if left unresolved for too long, can create a need to head back to court. The back-to-school season is relevant to custody issues in many ways. By thinking ahead and discussing important matters, you can avoid trouble.

The back-to-school season typically involves expenses

If you’re like many families in Missouri and beyond, it might be a tradition in your household to go “back-to-school shopping.” Schools today often post supply lists online so that parents know exactly what teachers expect students to bring with them to the classroom. Your kids might need some new clothes, as well. There may be additional expenses, such as activity fees, money for field trips, rental fees for musical instruments and more.

It is important to determine whether you and your ex will share the financial responsibilities of the school year and how that might factor into your child custody agreement. In some cases, it might even be part of a court order. If your ex is paying child support, monies can cover school expenses.

Everything doesn’t have to travel between both households

The last thing you need is to argue over lost paperwork as you and your children and your ex learn to get through the first school year following your divorce. While students often use electronic devices for school assignments, there is still plenty of paperwork involved in the average school year. If you are sharing custody of your kids, it’s best to designate one house or the other as the location to store all paperwork relevant to school. This way, you’re less likely to lose something in the shuffle.

As for signing papers or making decisions, such as whether a child can switch classes, join a club, go on a school trip, etc., if you and your ex have shared legal custody, then you must both agree on all decisions, including those pertaining to education.

Get it in writing and adhere to the court’s orders

You and your ex don’t have to do everything the same. For example, you might insist that your children do homework as soon as they get home from school while their other parentmight allow them to wait until after dinner. This is not a legal issue, and it’s okay if the two of you each have your own set of household rules. However, disregarding a court order is another matter altogether.

Once you have everything in writing, such as who can pick up or drop off the kids, which parent will go to conferences and special events, and who the school should call if there’s a problem, the judge overseeing your divorce can issue a child custody order. Both parents must adhere to the terms. If your ex isn’t following the rules, you can seek legal support to help resolve the issue.

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St. Louis County Bar Association
Illinois State Bar Association
LEX | The Missouri Bar