Back to School
Over the summer period, many of you may have noticed the appearance of a familiar phrase in our shops and supermarkets – ‘Back to School’. The start of a new school term can be a daunting time for children, especially those who are changing schools or starting their GCSEs. It can also be stressful for parents who, amongst balancing work with the six week summer holiday period, now have the added pressure of ensuring that their children have everything they need for the new term ahead – uniforms, shoes, stationary, pencil cases… the list is endless!
This pressure can be magnified for parents who have separated, especially if the separation occurred over the summer period.
As a family law firm, we often deal with cases where parents have parted ways and want to make sure that arrangements are put in place for their children. Arrangements such as these often centre around contact, finances and school arrangements.
With September marking the start of the new school term, we thought it would be useful to provide a checklist for those parents who have separated:
- Contact – the children will now be living across two separate households, so it is important that arrangements are put in place to ensure that they spend time with both parents. If the children are to live with one parent for the majority of the time, the parents needs to discuss and agree the nature and frequency of contact, both direct and indirect (i.e. telephone, social media etc.).
- Finances – provision needs to be made to cover the various items which children will need for school, such as uniforms, stationary, school meals etc. Parents need to clarify the costs of these expenses and agree who will fund them. It may also be appropriate for one parent to pay the other maintenance to cover the children’s daily essential needs, particularly if the agreement provides for a ‘resident parent’ and a ‘non-resident parent’.
- Adult Issues – the breakdown of a relationship can be a difficult time and it is understandable that parents may feel emotional. However, children are impressionable and they should be protected from adult issues and conflicts. If the separation occurred over the summer holiday, the news of the separation will still be very new. Parents need to allow a period of adjustment for the children to get used to two households and their new routines. The start of a new school term will be difficult enough for the children without the added burden of parental conflicts.
- Keep the school informed – ensure that the school are aware of a relationship breakdown. Logistically, schools need to know who will be dropping off and collecting the children and when. If there is a court order in place concerning arrangements for the children, the school may need a copy of this. Children may also display various emotions when coping with their parent’s separation. Where appropriate, teachers need to be made aware of problems at home so that they can support their students and deal with any issue which might arise.
- Extracurricular activities – if the children will be taking part in after school or weekend activities, parents need to consider the logistics. Who will pick up and drop off the children? Who will fund these activities?
- Uniforms – it won’t come as a shock to most parents that children can be forgetful! Ensure that spare uniforms and sport kits are kept at each parent’s house to avoid those last minute panics during the school run.
If you are currently going through a relationship breakdown or divorce and need matrimonial advice and our team here at Maguire Family Law would be happy to assist you.