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Family law: Dealing with back to school in high-conflict divorce

Summer break is rapidly coming to an end. All across Alabama, students and their families are buying school supplies and getting ready to head back to school for the fall semester. While this might seem like a straightforward process that happens year after year, it can be difficult for divorced, high-conflict parents. Here are a few ways in which family law might provide further guidance on this strained period of time.

A high-conflict divorce is defined as one in which the divorcing parties engage in ongoing and unrelenting malice. Malicious words and acts continue on even after the divorce is finalized, and there are often recurring court actions regarding both unsubstantiated and valid allegations. 

While this can be frustrating at best and both emotionally and financially draining at worst, it is particularly difficult for children. This is why it is important to address a wide range of parental responsibilities within both divorce decrees and child custody agreements.

Parents should address how to split the costs of school supplies and other back-to-school necessities before finalizing their divorce. Otherwise, if one parent is paying child support, he or she might insist that school costs are covered by monthly support payments. In a high-conflict divorce, that parent might also accuse the other of misusing support if he or she asks for help with covering school costs. Details should of back-to-school costs should be addressed carefully and thoroughly before the divorce is finalized.

Furthermore, participating jointly in school activities can be ill-advised for high-conflict parents. When it comes to the first day of school, it is a good idea for only one parent to attend drop-off, and this should be the individual who has parenting time on that day. It is also a good idea for only one parent to attend parent-teacher conferences to avoid an opportunity for conflict. The process for who attends which conferences should be discussed before the situation arises.

While many parents in Alabama might want to continue engaging in joint parental activities, this is simply not a reality for some. Even for parents whose children are not old enough for school, defining and outlining parameters around potential high-conflict situations is important. Since a high-conflict divorce by nature is not an easy process, parents often choose to seek the guidance from knowledgeable family law attorneys.

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