What shall I tell teacher? Going back to school after divorce
If your divorce is being finalised during the summer holidays, you are by no means alone. January is a peak season for divorce in the UK, which in turn results in many divorces being settled just at the time when the kids are about to head back to school.
Equally, the end of the summer holidays might be the trigger for the start of divorce proceedings. Nothing exposes the cracks in a relationship faster than two weeks’ holiday spent in 24/7 exposure to your spouse, as opposed to a few waking hours during the week and weekends.
Can a parent abduct their own child?
In law, a child is classed as abducted if they are taken or sent out of the country by anyone connected to them, without gaining permission from the relevant parties who have parental responsibility. So, in order to legally remove any child from the country, whether for a holiday or family visit, consent must be gained from anyone with parental responsibility, including a parent, guardian, someone with a relevant court order, or the courts.
Divorce and children
Divorce and pre-divorce separations can lead to a whole variety of changes for children, both in their physical and emotional circumstances.
- They may no longer live full-time in their family home, and have to move schools, with all the associated stress of making news friends.
- They may feel less confident or secure, and need extra support from their current school.
- They may be embarrassed and not sure quite how to tell their friends what has happened.
At LGFL Ltd, we always have the wellbeing of any children at the forefront of our minds. Over the years, we’ve seen kids cope well with divorce, and it inevitably comes down to organised and consistent co-parenting.
So, here are our five tips for making the change from married to divorced parenting.
1) Establish a routine
Draw up a child arrangement agreement which lays out exactly where your children are living and who is responsible for them on any given day, including holidays. Some parents try and arrange this through emails, which inevitably leads to confusion and lack of clarity as child-centred messages get mixed up with everyday emails. We have also seen disagreements about what exactly constitutes a week, and what day a week starts on leading to confusion and arguments that could easily be prevented.
Ideally, your child arrangement agreement lays down a child’s timetable that is consistent from week to week, especially if children swap over homes during the week. It makes the everyday stuff easier, such as remembering which bus to catch, or to pack a bag of clothes and toys. Children will soon get into the routine, and feel more comfortable and secure as a result.
2) Be consistent
Children like routine, and they also need consistency. So, both parents need to agree on some ground rules that apply whichever home they are in, such as homework before TV or computer games, a fixed bed-time, etc. This stops the indignant cries of “At Mum’s house, we can play on our iPads until 1am!” and ensures you present a united front.
3) Tell the school
Your children’s schools need to know what has happened, so they can support the child, and understand how this might affect your children’s behaviour whilst in school. Children might also find it easier to confide in teachers (if required) by knowing the school is aware of their changed circumstances. If your child is at an independent school, your should inform the bursar as soon as possible if there is a change in the payment process for school fees.
4) Keep your receipts
This may seem a little calculating (literally), but a divorce will trigger significant changes in your financial situation. It is important you keep track of what extra costs you have incurred for their education, beyond the usual expenses that are probably covered in your child support or financial settlement.
Unusual expenses such as school trips, extra activities, sports equipment, even items baked or created for school charity events should all be logged. Otherwise, the parent who has the children for the majority of school nights can quickly become the parent paying for most of the activities and expenses.
5) Enjoy your time with your children - and on your own
Co-parenting should offer new opportunities to spend time with your kids, whether they live with you or not. However, with the logistics of everyday life to cope with, it may not seem like an opportunity at first. The needs of everyday life may results in the non-resident parent to be the ‘fun’ one. As Samantha Simmonds explains in an excellent article for The Telegraph,
“I’m intent on focusing more on the times my children do want and need me (often when they’re feeling hurt physically or emotionally) – and also make the most of the times they don’t.”
At LGFL Ltd, we know that a truly pain-free divorce doesn’t really exist. However, our child-centred ethos and collaborative law approach has helped many couples to divorce with less stress, less antagonism and less confrontation, especially in the court room.
If you’d like to discuss our approach to divorce, please call us for a free 30-minute consultation at our family law offices near Reading.