Once a custody order of any sort is in place, I always advise my clients to bring a copy of the custody order to their child’s school and/or daycare provider. Schools and daycare providers stand in loco parentis to children when they are not in their parent’s custody. It’s highly important they are made aware of any important legal orders out there regarding the children in their care.
Physical custody orders have implications on schools and daycare providers, and they need to be aware of who has the child on what days. This helps identify who is responsible if the child is tardy or absent from school. This also helps to identify where disciplinary or homework problems may lie. If, for example, a child is wonderful about doing homework with Dad but leaves it at home on Mom’s time, the teacher can address such issues accordingly. I have had plenty of teachers thank my clients for letting them know their physical custody schedule, as it helps the teachers to immediately address any issues that arise.
Legal custody orders must also be explained to daycare providers and school administrators. If the parties have joint legal custody, I always advise my clients to have a sit down meeting with the principal. I make sure they explain to the right school administrators that any educational decisions or disciplinary issues that arise have to be dealt with by both parents. This also puts the school on alert that if some medical issue should arise when the child is in the custody of the school or daycare, that both parents must be notified immediately of said issue.
I also make sure to tell my clients to bring a box of self-addressed, stamped envelopes to their children’s schools. Many times, this is a requirement for the school to send home a second copy of all pertinent school correspondence and communications. You can’t always count on the other parent to be forthcoming with report cards/sports schedules/disciplinary issues. This will insure an open line of communication directly with the school, which will keep you fully informed regarding your child’s school activities, and will keep you from relying solely on the other parent for information about your child.
I always make sure to give my clients an extra card to pass on to the principal or daycare provider. If, upon reading the order, they have any questions about the legalities or interpretation of what is written, I want to be the one to help them out. Oftentimes, school districts may have their own lawyers that they call. However, I have found many school district lawyers to not be well-versed on family law issues. Check with your attorney and make sure he or she will make themselves available to the school.
One thing that never ceases to amaze is the lack of knowledge that schools and daycare providers have regarding custody orders. It is imperative that any divorcing and/or divorced parents make their schools and daycare providers fully aware of their legal and physical custody rights, to insure they are fully respected.