The beginning of the school year is a chaotic time for parents and children alike. The chaos can be compounded by the fresh introduction of a divorce or a separation of the child’s parents. Where custody is shared among two parents and two households, the child’s normal routine can be severely disrupted. Maryland divorce lawyers observe these kinds of disruptions on a daily basis, and they know that at the end of the day, children crave structure and familiarity with their daily routines.
For these reasons, Maryland family law attorneys are among the best equipped to offer advice as to how divorced or separated parents can reduce disruptions in the child’s routine and thereby reduce the child’s stress. In general, family lawyers urge divorced and separated parents to communicate civilly for the sake of the child. Communication is essential to parents’ efforts to try to normalize the experiences the child will have in his or her daily life regardless of which residence the child returns to on a given day.
The parents should create a master calendar that will travel with the child between both residences. The calendar should include the custody and visitation schedule, important school dates, athletics schedules, homework due dates, vacations, and anything else that would help all parties understand their responsibilities. If the child is young, he or she might benefit from visual cues on this master calendar. For example, the days on which the child is to spend with his or her father might exhibit a blue sticker, while the days with his or her mother might be denoted by a red sticker. Days on which the child has soccer practice might be denoted by a soccer ball sticker. Whatever the system, the point is that the child is aware of the weekly schedule from the presentation of these visual cues, while the parents are informed of their obligations to get the child to the proper place at the proper time.
As a corollary to the master calendar, parents should equip their child with a master backpack for the week. It should contain all of the child’s school assignments for the week so that the parents need not make unnecessary trips back and forth to retrieve a worksheet or spelling book. This type of weekly planning is essential, as the child cannot always be trusted to keep track of these assignments. The last thing parents want is for their child to ignore a homework assignment because the proper materials were at the other parent’s house.
It is important to note that Maryland family lawyers are not just your allies in the courtroom. They observe the effects of divorce and separation on children nearly every day. Their observations give them particular insight as to which custody and visitation plans are effective in reducing the stress on a child. They know that the best way to keep a child’s mind off of their parents’ relationship is to give them a consistent and unified school routine.
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