Two of Udall Shumway PLC’s largest practice groups are our Education Law and Family Law sections. Attorneys from these two groups regularly collaborate to answer client questions when a conflict arises about students with respect to their enrollment/withdrawal from school, educational records requests, or school-time visits from parents.
As a family law practitioner, I understand the challenges parents face when they are working through custody and parenting time maters. Schools typically do not want to find themselves in the middle of disputes between parents. Schools are often (and should be) a safe haven for students, particularly in times of change at home. Set forth below are suggestions that will help you, your children and the schools they attend while you are managing the realities of dual-household parenting:
- Make sure your child(ren)’s school(s) have a copy of the most current custodial/decision-making and parenting time orders. School personnel should be “in the loop” on the mechanics of your parenting plan and must know who may make choices for withdrawal and other matters (such as an Individual Education Plan).
- Discuss any conflicts about your parenting plan or educational decisions with your child(ren)’s other parent (or a mediator, a Parenting Coordinator, or the Court) rather than the school. The school is not the referee in your dispute.
- Have a meaningful and precise parenting plan (see my blog on the Do’s and Don’ts of Parenting Plans here). A well-crafted parenting plan can reduce the potential for conflict.
- Use a shared calendar with your child(ren)’s other parent so that you can each upload and view important school dates like conferences, music programs, and field trips. There are several software and internet programs that offer this mechanism but something as simple as a free Google Calendar could also work.
- Always be respectful and polite during any school event and during all communications with school personnel. This should go without saying, but a gentle reminder to treat others professionally can never hurt.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact Lindsay A. M. Olivarez at www.udallshumway.com or contact an attorney in your community.