Back to School Brings Challenges for Shared Custody

Beverly Hills Divorce & Custody Lawyer

For parents who share custody of minor children, the summer usually brings some much-needed flexibility on schedules as the kids are out of school and likely not as engaged with activities.  Now that August is here soon we’ll be seeing ads for “back to school” and it’s time to start reviewing a few key points to ensure that the transition from summer back to school is as smooth as it can be. 

Here are a few questions for parents with shared custody to ask in preparation for the kids going back to school in the fall.

  • Do the appropriate people have access to the kids at school?  
    Make sure the right people (including step-parents) are listed as emergency contacts and people who are authorized to pick up a child from school.  This can become a major issue in the case of an emergency at school, but also can present an awkward inconvenience for someone trying to pick up their child after school.  If you are in a situation where there are certain people you need to make sure are NOT allowed to pick them up from school, ensure that information is updated as well.
  • Are there any major changes in schedule this year?
    If children are going from Elementary School to Middle School or Junior High, the start and end times for their days can change dramatically.  If last year school was from 7-2:30 and this year it’s from 9:00-4:30 or vice versa that’s can create some waves.  Make sure you have a firm grasp on start and finish times for everyone, but especially those who are going to a new school this fall.   Even if the schedules are not changing, this is a good time to examine things that maybe didn’t work well last year.  Challenges around days off, getting to conferences, holiday breaks etc.
  • Are Both Parents Contributing Financially?
    Back-to-School can come with a pretty hefty price tag.  New clothes, equipment for sports, activity fees, school supplies, tuition and more can make a big financial impact.  Make sure both parents are contributing towards these expenses, or that your financial arrangement takes them into consideration.
  • Are Both Parents Contributing Effort and Time?
    In addition to the financial cost of supporting student, there is also a lot of effort and time required.  Helping with homework, dropping off and picking up, keeping open lines of communication about new friends or teachers should all be a shared responsibility.  
  • If Children Are Going Between Two Homes, Do Both Homes Have Everything They Need?
    Back-to-school can be a stressful time for children, especially if this is the first year they are splitting time between two homes.  Do a morning and evening run through; do your children have everything they will need to make mornings run smoothly?  Starting your day with a calm positive attitude can make a huge impact on how the rest of your day goes.  Make sure you are setting up your kids for success at school, especially if them leaving from your home is a new adjustment for them.

Questions about  how custody issues or  going Back-To-School will affect your parenting plan?  We can help.  Call our office or send an email through our contact form to get information about an initial consultation with our expert family law attorneys.

Reviving an Old Friendship

Regaining the Spark in Your Marriage

The next of six articles focused on fulfillment in life talks about reviving an old friendship. In this article, we’ll be examining how we can best regain the spark in our most important “old” friendship, the one with our spouse. Relationships go through cycles and changes and that is very normal; no one expects to stay in the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship forever, but what are spouses to do when a piece of their relationship has become like an old friendship and they feel out of touch.

Taking Inventory

The article starts by suggesting that you examine why you and the friend first fell out of touch; did one of you move? Your interests changed? It became more and more difficult to find the time? Unfortunately, when you feel distanced from your spouse it can be more difficult to put your finger on exactly what is different. Every relationship is unique, so figuring out the special things that make yours tick can be a challenge. Start with retracing your steps, what were the circumstances around the last time you remember really enjoying time with your spouse; was it planned or spontaneous? Something normal and “everyday” or was it a vacation or a special night out? Remembering what worked in the past can give you clues on how to move forward.

Manage Expectations

A sudden change in your approach to the relationship or your behavior can be off-putting, even alarming to your spouse. Communication and managing expectations are both critical. If your surprise date night happens the same day your spouse had a bad day at work and got stuck in traffic you may need to be flexible. Springing “I want to talk about our relationship” onto your spouse can make your spouse feel sensitive or defensive. Just understand that making changes and breaking habits, while rewarding, involves some level of risk as well.

Availability & Honesty

Whether you are trying to simply have better conversations or surprise your spouse with a second honeymoon, be open, honest and ready to work for what you want. Investing in your relationship with your spouse can feel difficult and even scary, but a commitment to constantly improving your relationship will pay off in the end.

Parties, Dates, And Why They Matter

The second piece in our six piece series on fulfillment is a guide to navigating a party or other social situation effectively.  The author of the original article lays out some nice tips about how to work your way through a party or gathering.  These are great tips for navigating a party as an individual, but there are also some parallels that are helpful for your most important social relationship, the one with your spouse.  We are going to take a high-level look at the tips the author offered and think about them in the context of a marriage.

Preparation and Purpose

Being prepared for a party includes thinking about your appearance, what to bring with you, and spending some time thinking about your expectations and what you are trying to accomplish.   If you are struggling to make meaningful time with your spouse, this same approach can work.  Make a plan so that you and your spouse have committed the time, and then go above and beyond by preparing for your time together.  Whether that means special attention to how you look or where you will go or even just what you’d like to talk about, showing that you invested time and effort to your time together will be meaningful to your spouse.

Mingling and Meeting New People

A portion of the article was dedicated to helping people get over the awkward humps one faces when you’ve just met.  However, uncomfortable silences and an inability to find common ground to discuss is something that spouses can also experience.  While there are more specific solutions when dealing with people you just met the fundamental idea of being pleasant and available certainly will certainly work with your spouse as well.  Ask about work, what’s going on with friends, personal or professional goals, etc..  Treat your spouse with the same care and concern that you would show when trying to make a good first impression. 

Breaking Phone Habits

It’s cliché and for good reason; we are all spending too much time looking at our phones.  In the original article, it talks about how looking at your phone makes you seem inaccessible and not open to meeting new people at a party.  The fallback of looking at a phone in moments of boredom or distraction can also send a message to your spouse.  Out to dinner?  Consciously commit to not looking at your phone unless it’s necessary.  It’s all too easy for spouses to fall into old habits that isolate you from one another.  Being present when spending time together is a lot easier if you’re not staring at a phone.

Don’t “Mail it In”

Your marriage isn’t a party, but a lot of the tips for preparing for a social gathering are also very helpful to keeping your marriage on track.  The common theme in a lot of the tips offered were grounded in the idea that effort and thoughtfulness go a long way.  In many struggling marriages spouses will look for miracle fixes or grandiose gestures when the real building block of any good relationship is consistently being available and showing that you care.  You wouldn’t try to impress people at a party by showing up late, not looking great and then being disengaged and staring at your phone, so show your spouse that same effort, whether that be on a special date night, or just spending a few minutes together in the midst of the chaos.