Working out finances, schedules and after-school activities in divorced families

- It's a bittersweet time when summer ends and kids go back to school next week. For divorced families, back-to-school season brings the challenge of splitting school costs and family time all over again.

Sabrina Cronin, a family attorney and counselor at The Cronin Law Firm, PLLC, joined us on The Nine to give these families so advice to make the transition a little smoother.

1.   Who pays for school supplies, lunches, sports and other extracurricular activities?

Expenses like clothing, food, haircuts, shelter are meant to be covered by child support, Cronin says. Michigan law does not specifically tell us whether expenses for extracurricular activities like sports, dance, cubs, etc. are covered.

Provisions in divorce judgments should be included to define how the parties will pay for activities.

If you don't have provisios and the custodial parent cannot afford to sign child up for a specific activity, he or she has to get an agreement with the other parent to share that cost. If your family has joint legal custody, both parents must agree that the activity is appropriate for the child.

If there is no provision for the division or share of costs, common sense should prevail. Continue to set aside the differences with your ex for the best interests of your children, Cronin says. Don't try to get back at your ex by using the lack on monetary support for your children's activities.

If your children would like certain clothes or shoes, even if you are paying child support, does not mean you should not buy them these items. Your children will appreciate your helping with buying items.

You are still a parent.  Make good choices and try to do what's right for your children.

2.  How do you handle Extra Curricular Activities?  Who gets to attend? What happens if a parent is not forthcoming as to when these events are?

If your family has joint legal custody, both parents are welcome to attend. Both parents should speak with the school and teachers to get to know who is involved in your children's lives, etc. 

Become a presence in their lives by being present and involved, not just on your parenting time.

A parent should not have to be asked to be a part of their children's lives.

3.  Going back to school usually means the summer parenting time schedule is over.

Summer generally offers a more flexible and liberal schedule and parents usually have a vacation schedule with the children.

When it is time to return to school, the children adapt to a more structured schedule. Focus on what is in the best interests of your children.


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