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FAQs About School and Divorce

After a divorce parents frequently have questions about things that go on at school, such as field trip permissions and who can pick up the children after school. Family Matters Law Group offers this guide to some of the most frequently asked school questions for divorced parents.

Who Gets To Decide Where Our Child Goes To School?

This is really a question about who has the legal custody of the child? Physical custody, which is about where the child lives most of the time.  Legal custody refers to which parent has the legal right to make educational, medical, religious, and extra-curricular activities that impact the welfare of the child.

If you have joint legal custody of your child, you will make the school decision along with your ex. Where you cannot reach a mutual decision, the Court will determine who has “tie-breaking” authority over the four areas of legal custody listed above. If you have sole legal custody, you and you alone get to make the decision.

Can My Ex Pick Up My Child From School?

Unless you have sole custody, or you specify with the school that your ex can't pick up your child, it’s likely that the school will allow your ex to do this. Schools deal with custody and visitation arrangements frequently. Make sure you talk with the school administration and spell out clearly who can pick up your child and who is not.  

Picking up children from school or extracurricular activities should also be spelled out in your court ordered visitation plan. If not, see your attorney to get that information approved by the court.

Does The School Have To Give Copies To Both Parents?

When it comes to schoolwork assignments and report cards, many parents get frustrated because they believe that the school is responsible for ensuring both parents get copies of anything important. When it comes to daily school and homework, the parent who is in possession of the child will likely obtain this information first and be responsible for assisting the child with said work. However, if the other parent not in possession of the child wants to be involved with this school work, most teachers welcome involvement from both parents, especially when it promotes the success of the child academically. So, you should politely talk to the teacher, who should be accommodating.

As for report cards, there should be language in the custody order specifying what educational information must be made available to the non-custodial parent. Show the court order to the school and they should be compliant. If that language is not present, you must go back to court. Talk to your attorney and see what your options are.

Do We Have To Attend Meetings At School Together?

No. If you have sole legal custody, you do not need to include your ex in any school meetings. This is even true for meetings that are legally mandated such as IEP conferences.

As for joint legal custody, trust us: schools see parents who don’t get along all the time. It is not unreasonable to ask the school administration to take into account the contentious nature of your relationship with your ex and to schedule separate meetings. You will still have to make decisions together, but that doesn’t mean you have to meet together.

If My Ex Refuses to Take Our Child to PreK, Can I Have Custody?

PreK and Kindergarten programs are not mandatory in the state of Georgia. While this is concerning given that it is in the best interest of the child to be in one of these programs, it may or may not be grounds for a custody reversal. This is a situation where you really need to discuss things with an attorney.

Family Matters Law Group answers important educational questions from our clients in Henry, Clayton, and Fayette counties, as well as across the Atlanta metro area. We believe that education is one of the most important aspects of a child’s life. This is why we fight hard to make sure our clients know their rights. If you are in an educational struggle, contact us today. We’re ready to hear your story!

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