Addressing Back-to-School Issues by Collaborative Practice

Whether you are separated or divorced, or share a child with a former partner, there are issues which commonly arise in July and August prior to the start of school. These back-to-school issues often need immediate attention, and court calendars may not accommodate the issue in a timely fashion. In addition to the time crunch, litigating the issues may be cost prohibitive.

We are often asked whether issues in a post-dissolution or a post-paternity decree can be addressed collaboratively. The answer is a resounding "YES!" It is always better to resolve children's issues by collaboration and open communication than by litigation. Not only does it address immediate issues, but collaborative practice sets the stage for future resolution via communication between the parties without the need for attorneys.

Where the children attend school is often a source of disagreement, the desire of a party to have a child attend private or parochial school instead of public school, and the payment of the cost of that private or parochial education, are often issues that are not fully addressed in divorce or paternity decrees because of the age of the children at the time of the decree. Collaborative practice can be used to work through these issues in positive ways, and sets the stage for resolution of similar issues that may arise as the children grow. Child specialists are often used to evaluate the educational process and the application of the proposed education to the individual child.

The use of medication, i.e. prescriptions for ADD, ADHD, and depression, are often hotly contested between separated parents. Parents are quick to make judgments as to the best interests of his/her child without considering the position of the other parent. Again, child specialists gather information from treating health care professionals and educators, as well as from parents, and work with the parents and their attorneys to resolve the issues peacefully.

The financial impact of sending a child to college is significant. Some parents save and are prepared for those large bursar bills, while others haven't been able to save, and find themselves in the financial situation of being unable to pay for college. Collaboratively trained financial specialists are useful in evaluating the financial impact of college and applying financial strategies to create plans of action for college payments. Creative solutions are often available when the parties use knowledgeable professionals to help guide them through the process.

Extracurricular activities, and the expense of those activities, increase greatly as the children age. Some parties can afford to have the children in every activity from school- supported sports to private/club sports. Others simply cannot. Collaborative practice can be used to help the parties view these activities rationally and cooperatively. It allows the parents to openly dialogue as to the best interests of the child in participating in the sport or sports and the financial impact of the parent, and perhaps the child, by allowing the child to participate.

Collaborative practice is an efficient and time effective way to 1) evaluate the problem; 2) research resolutions; and 3) apply plans of action that resolve issues. Collaborative practice is an excellent tool to resolve all family issues – not just issues that arise during the divorce. Efficient, effective, and economical: collaborative practice is the answer to your post-decree disputes!