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Does a new school year mean a review of custody?

As summer becomes only a memory of trips down the shore, the heralding of a new school year is upon us. Whether your kids are heading off to elementary school or high school, each year brings new challenges—and new changes.

From football practice to dance lessons, new teachers and more homework, no two school years are the same. With all the moving parts, could fall be the time that you need to reevaluate your custody arrangements?

Is it something we need to do?

For some parents, accommodating evolving schedules is easy to do—perhaps they live close enough to their ex and can work around the logistics inherent in after-school activities. But some couples not only live far from each other, many also live in other school districts.

This might not be as much of an issue when the kids are young, but as children make new friends in separate neighborhoods, or choose to participate in church/synagogue activities that are closer to one parent’s house, it can often mean that a newly negotiated custody agreement is in order.

What are the benefits?

As long as a couple agrees to a new schedule there is no definitive need to codify it with a new order. Be warned, however: While your ex may informally agree to the modification, if at any time they change their mind, the custody agreement in your current divorce takes precedence. An abrupt change, then, could wreak havoc for both you and your kids.

So while it is possible to enter a “gentleman’s agreement” for parenting time, it is always wise not only to seek legal counsel before engaging in such a change, but also to consider formally documenting it for the benefit of all involved.

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