Family Court Cases and Their Impact on Your Child’s School

Family Court Cases and Their Impact on Your Child’s School

If you are involved in any sort of child custody case or family court cases, it is possible that a central topic, in that case, will be the performance of your child’s school. Their education is something at the top of your priorities list, but it is the same for your opposing party and the judge. With so much emphasis being placed on their schooling, you probably would not be surprised to learn that school records and even school administrators/teachers are often brought into the courtroom to supply evidence for one side or the other.

In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will discuss the importance of evidence as supplied by schools in the form of documents and testimony in Texas family law cases.

What Can Happen if You Request School Records via a Subpoena for Your Family Case Trial?

Your attorney may use a “subpoena duces tecum” to obtain your child’s school records. This helps assess how your parenting affects their academic performance, behavior, attendance, and health. The school provides authenticated records, ensuring their validity in court.

Case Study: Impact of School Records on Custody Decisions

In a recent child custody case, we focused on a teenager’s 8th-grade school records. The child, initially in public school, was switched to an online school by the mother, citing lack of attention at the previous school. However, the child’s performance declined significantly in the online setting, missing classes and failing to submit assignments.

Our client, the father, sought a modification in custody, aiming for more involvement in his daughter’s upbringing and educational decisions. Lacking access to the online school’s records, we subpoenaed her academic documents, which proved critical in the case. The records favored our client, contributing to a positive outcome in his custody case.

Can Administrators or Teachers Be Asked to Testify in Your Child’s Case?

If your attorney needs information from your child’s school staff during a trial, they must issue a subpoena. This legal document should clearly request not only the relevant documents but also the staff member’s appearance in court. Alternatively, your attorney might opt for a deposition before the trial, easing the burden on the school employee.

School Staff’s Reluctance to Attend Court

Teachers and principals are generally reluctant to be involved in court proceedings and may not be at ease in such a setting. Despite their professionalism, testifying in court, especially if it’s their first time, might not be as smooth or eloquent as expected.

Ignoring a subpoena is ill-advised. Upon receiving one, the school district’s legal counsel will review it for validity. Delaying the subpoena process risks its dismissal. A well-drafted subpoena by your attorney minimizes complications, ensuring that the required school staff member attends court and provides testimony.

Interested in Coming up With Creative Solutions to Everyday Problems in Family Law? Keep Reading

Family Court Cases and Their Impact on Your Child’s School

Understanding the value of settling family law disputes outside the courtroom can be pivotal for you and your child’s wellbeing. Achieving resolution without court intervention often leads to simpler, less time-consuming, and more beneficial outcomes for your children.

In family law, creative problem-solving is key, especially when dealing with rights and duties related to your child. As a parent in a custody case, you’ll likely find yourself in the role of a Joint Managing Conservator. This role focuses less on the fight over rights and duties and more on the overall custody arrangement.

Our upcoming blogs will delve into the specifics of being a sole managing conservator versus a possessory conservator. We’ll also explore scenarios involving nonparent conservators. The crux of the matter in family law isn’t the title you hold, but the specific rights and duties awarded to you. The fundamental qualification for being named a joint managing conservator is being a competent and fit parent, not necessarily achieving ‘parent of the year’ status.

What Rights Will You Be Able to Exercise Independent of the Other Parent and Which Will Be Held Jointly With Him/Her?

Your final orders will need to specify which rights you hold independent of the other parent, and which ones are held jointly with him or her. Some rights may even be held exclusively by you or your child’s other parent in some circumstance.

The exclusive right to determine the primary residence of your child, the exclusive right to receive or make child support payments, and the exclusive right to consent to medical procedures are a few that jump to my mind.

If you and your attorney creatively draft your order’s language then many of those rights do not need to be awarded both to you and your child’s other parent. For instance, it is not out of the question that it may not be in your child’s best interests for your ex-spouse to be able to consult with your child’s doctor, dentist or school administrators.

For example, if that parent has displayed inappropriate behavior in the past around these people then that parent should not be awarded the right to attend school activities or manage the health care decisions of your child with you.

What Rights Do Most People Fight Over in a Family Law Case?

In family law, particularly in child custody cases, certain rights and duties often become the center of intense negotiations. Understanding these key areas is crucial for any parent navigating this complex terrain.

  • Primary Residence and Medical Decisions: One of the most contested rights is determining your child’s primary residence. This decision significantly influences other aspects of caregiving, including the right to make critical medical and surgical decisions. Invasive procedures and psychiatric treatments, in particular, require careful consideration and often, mutual consent from both parents.
  • Child Support and Educational Decisions: Equally pivotal is the right to receive child support payments and make educational choices for your child. These decisions shape your child’s future and wellbeing and are often points of heated discussions in custody agreements.

Negotiating these rights with your child’s other parent can be challenging. It’s advisable to consider adding notice or consultation requirements for major decisions, a strategy not explicitly outlined in the Texas Family Code but beneficial in practice. For instance, you might agree to consult with the other parent before consenting to any psychiatric treatment for your child.

The real challenge lies in agreeing on who holds the exclusive rights in various scenarios. If both parents have divergent views on critical issues like education and healthcare, finding a middle ground or a ‘tiebreaker’ mechanism is essential. Both parties ideally agree on this tiebreaker, and then they integrate it into your court orders for future guidance.

Reaching Creative Solutions Regarding Educational Decisions

Family Court Cases and Their Impact on Your Child’s School

For over a decade, families in Texas have agreed to restrict their child’s residence to a specific geographic area, rather than giving one parent exclusive rights to designate the child’s primary residence. While this approach seems beneficial overall, it raises challenges in deciding your child’s school.

In Texas, a child can attend school in the district where you or the child’s other parent resides. The crucial question to address is which parent will make decisions about the child’s educational future. Usually, the parent who designates the primary residence of the child assumes greater decision-making rights. However, if the child doesn’t have a primary residence, you must negotiate this issue.

Questions about Texas family law? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

The attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to thank you for spending part of your day with us here on our blog. We are a community law office and take pride in being able to represent our neighbors in the family courts of southeast Texas.

If you have any questions about the material that you have read today, please do not hesitate to contact our office. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations here in our office six days a week. These consultations are a great opportunity to ask questions and receive direct feedback about your specific circumstances.


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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Child Custody Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it’s important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Child Custody Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our child custody lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles child custody cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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