Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School Tips for Divorced and Divorcing Parents

A tricky question that will eventually face anyone who is either going through or has recently been in a Texas Divorce is when you should tell others about the break up. As we are looking at the beginning of the new school year, you may be wondering whether to tell your child’s school.  So, should I tell my child’s school about my divorce?  In this video, we’ll answer that question along with other back to school tips for divorced or divorcing parents.

Informing Your Child’s School

Experts say that it is not necessary to jump ahead and tell the school until things are actually in motion.  My general advice however, is to make your child’s school aware of the divorce once it has been finalized and a custody order has been put in place.   This becomes an even better idea if your custody case was or is a contentious one.   Making sure the school is aware of the visitation schedule will help ensure your child goes home with the right parent on the right day.

Protective Orders

However, in some cases, my advice moves beyond “it’s a good idea” to a very pointed and urgent  admonishment that if you are involved in a case with a finding of family violence and a protective order, it is absolutely necessary to inform the school  of the existence of the order.  The school needs to know who and who does not have access to the child.  Fortunately most schools are very aware of their responsibilities to keep your child safe.  Bringing them a certified copy of your protective order is an excellent way to ensure they can do their job by clarifying  their duties as it relates to your child.

General Parent Rights on Education

Fortunately most cases do not require that amount of vigilance.  There are certain conservator rights that are usually granted to both parents in the bulk of all cases, although a Texas court may limit them if it is warranted for some reason.  Many of these relate to schools.  Unless the court specifically ordered otherwise, under 153.073 of the Texas Family Code both parents have the right to receive educational information about their child and to have access to their child’s school records.  Each parent can independently consult with school officials about their child’s educational and extracurricular activities.  Each parent can attend school activates, and each parent has the right to be notified by the school in the case of an emergency.

If you have a standard custody order in Texas, or if you anticipate no reason the court would limit these educational right in your pending divorce or custody suit, then it is probably a good idea to let the school know what is going on.  If the school knows you are living apart, they can take necessary steps such as sending home two copies of report cards, discipline reports, and the like.  This  will keep both parents in the loop and avoid any potential conflicts.  And avoiding conflict will always save you emotional stress, time and potentially litigation costs.

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