As a parent, Labor Day weekend signals the end of the summer and a transition back to regular schedules for children in school. Separated parents of children face new dilemmas from the more relaxed days of summer. The top dilemmas we frequently see in our office revolve around:
- School choice: Parents don’t always agree on what school is best for their child to attend. The decision of school enrollment is a legal custody issue, which most parents must decide together. When one parent has the child living in their home for the majority of the time, the decision often follows what works best based on their location. If the parents have equal parenting time, or the noncustodial parent has strong reasons to prefer a different school district, the court may need to get involved for the purpose of determining what school enrollment is in the child’s best interest.
- Extracurricular activities: Parents may disagree on extracurricular activities for a number of reasons. A parent may not want a child to be involved in a particular activity that always falls on their night for parenting time or a parent may not want a child involved in the other parent’s church’s youth group and not their own. Additionally, parents may argue over who is responsible for the cost of the extracurricular activity or any necessary equipment. Parents are usually able to work through these issues in mediation or just in discussions with each other.
- Overnight parenting time during the week: During the summer months, parents tend to be more relaxed about overnight schedules because the children aren’t bound by homework deadlines and early mornings at school. Depending on how far apart the parents live and how conducive the noncustodial parent’s home environment is to studying and having a structured evening schedule, a custodial parent may be more reluctant to allow an overnight during the week. In the past it was very common to have a schedule set up allowing much more contact during the summer and mostly weekend and holiday overnights during the school year, or to have continued evening parenting time that does not include overnight stays. Recent changes in the best interest factors analyze the detriment to children if the non-custodial parent does not have sufficient time to be involved with a child’s school work.
If you are facing any of these issues or additional issues from the start of the school year, we often work with parents to modify schedules to meet their children’s changing needs. If you have questions about what changes may be appropriate for you, contact us to schedule a telephone or in person consultation.