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What Does Your Child鈥檚 School Need to Do Once You Have Been to Family Court?

What Does Your Child鈥檚 School Need to Do Once You Have Been to Family Court?

One of the most frequently asked questions of me in relation to people鈥檚 family law cases is what their child鈥檚 school needs to do in relation to their newly produced family court orders. Many of those orders will tangentially affect your child and their school. Picking up a child from school, dropping off a child at school, allowing for early release of the child for a doctor鈥檚 appointment and what parent can access information are just a few of the instances where your child鈥檚 school is relevant when discussing your family law situation.

The administration and teachers of your child鈥檚 school come face to face with issues related to family law cases on a daily basis. They have a need to balance your parental rights and that of your child鈥檚 other parent, all the while keeping a focus on the well-being and learning of your child.

It is not an easy position for these folks to be In, but they don鈥檛 get to choose the situations that their children find themselves in. They, like you, just have to make the best of whatever circumstances are in play.

To What Extent Does School Administration Have to Review Final Orders From Your Divorce or Child Custody Case?

In any family law case that affects the relationship that a parent has with one of their students, the school will need to be aware of any of your parental rights have been restricted or terminated outright. The rights that you have are likely to be assigned specifically in the order. If the order doesn鈥檛 state that you have a particular right, then it is difficult to argue that you actually do.

For instance, most parents after a family law case will retain the right to attend school events for their child, speak to their child鈥檚 teacher(s) and access their educational records like progress reports and report cards. Ensuring that schools list both parents as emergency contacts for their child is crucial for many families. Imagine not receiving a call at work when your child breaks a bone at school. Schools must understand each student鈥檚 specific family situation to prevent such oversights.

This understanding becomes critical when schools consider students for alternative learning environments, special education, or accelerated courses. In some families, only one parent has the ability to make decisions whether or not to enroll their child in these type of courses. However, your family may not be in the same boat and school officials need to be aware of your particular circumstances so they don鈥檛 contribute to the violations of a court order.

What if There Is No Court Order in Place at All?

Schools often encounter challenges in situations without a court order, particularly with informal separations. When you and your legally married spouse live separately, schools might mistakenly infer a divorce, causing confusion among officials. In cases where you and your child鈥檚 other parent never married, and the school remains uninformed, it鈥檚 critical to establish their legal status.

If the father has legal recognition as the parent, he possesses equal parental rights, independent of the relationship status. Conversely, lacking legal recognition, he cannot make decisions, pick up or drop off the child, or access school records. In these scenarios, directly communicating with the school administration becomes essential to clarify the situation.

What Happens in a Situation Where You Are the Only Parent to Interact With Your Child鈥檚 School?

In many situations, you may find yourself as the only parent who has a role in interacting with your child鈥檚 school when it comes to their grades, classes or picks up/drop off issues.

If your child鈥檚 other parent is involved in their life but not in school-related matters, the school might be completely unaware of their existence. When you are the only parent interacting with your child鈥檚 school, they will likely seek only your approval on the issues we discussed today.

School and Family Law: Can Someone Other Than Parents Enroll a Child in School?

What Does Your Child鈥檚 School Need to Do Once You Have Been to Family Court?

Someone other than you or the other parent could have enrolled your child in school. For instance, if you were dealing with issues requiring you to leave home for counseling or therapy, and thus couldn鈥檛 be present for your child, a non-parent might step in.

In Texas public schools, a non-parent can enroll a child if the parent is unavailable. This non-parent must provide legal proof of their capacity to do so. Without a court order, they can not only enroll your child but also participate in decision-making responsibilities.

Although not ideal, schools sometimes need input from someone close to the child when parents are unavailable.

This is the policy of the schools but is not always the most 鈥渃omfortable鈥 thing to do from a legal perspective if there is nothing from a court to justify allowing the non-parent to act in this capacity.

The best-case scenario for you and your child鈥檚 other parent is to sign over power of attorney to the non-parent as soon as possible. The non-parent can provide that form to your child鈥檚 school to keep in their records for future reference.

What Is a Power of Attorney?

You may sign a legal document that allows another person to be able to step into your shoes and act in your capacity as a parent on behalf of your child when you are unable to do so. That power of attorney may be limited to certain areas (like educational issues) or can be more broadly applied. This is done on a voluntary basis and would not be the result of a court order.

Let鈥檚 say that you are going to be away from your child for a certain period of time. You may decide to leave your child with your mother and then sign a Power of Attorney that allows your mother to act as a parent to your child when it comes to decision making related to school or medical issues.

While you are away from your child, your mother would have temporary rights. Keep in mind that if you have been to family court previously and have had your parental rights restricted in any way, you are now only able to assign rights to your mother that you have retained.

What Does Your Child鈥檚 School Need to Do When an Absentee Parent Comes to Withdraw Your Child?

When an absentee father appears at your child鈥檚 school, seeking to withdraw them, it poses a complex situation. Schools in Texas, each with unique protocols, are cautious in such scenarios. They balance supporting legitimate parental rights and avoiding actions based on unverified claims.

Verification of Parental Identity

Initially, the school鈥檚 response would involve identity verification. This includes checking school records to see if the father was ever listed as an emergency contact or recognized in any capacity in the child鈥檚 life. He may present a birth certificate or court order proving paternity, but this alone doesn鈥檛 grant automatic rights.

Parental rights are intricate. Even if he is the biological father, without marriage or a paternity case, he may lack legal parental rights. If you have a court order negating his rights or affirming his non-legal status, it can counter his claim.

School鈥檚 Responsibility and Evidence Requirement

Schools require documentary evidence for any major decision regarding a student. The father must provide substantial proof for actions like accessing records or participating in school activities. This safeguards the child鈥檚 interests and adheres to legal standards.

This approach ensures a balanced and legally sound response to such sensitive situations, prioritizing the child鈥檚 welfare and adhering to legal frameworks.

Your Child鈥檚 School Should Tell You if the Absent Parent Suddenly Makes an Appearance

What Does Your Child鈥檚 School Need to Do Once You Have Been to Family Court?

It is likely that your child鈥檚 father wouldn鈥檛 tip you off to the fact that he will be going to the school on a random weekday to try to withdraw her from class or cause any other number of disruptions. As a result, you will be relying upon the school to keep you informed of any events like this involving your child.

From my experience, most schools will inform parents of situations like this. However, it would be wise to warn the school in advance that should something as this happen you would like to be contacted immediately.

Absent a court order, a school does not have the ability to withhold a child from their parent. What most schools will do is engage in the withdrawal process slowly enough to allow you to arrive on the scene and attempt to stop that action.

If you have a court order that bars this parent from proceeding with withdrawal then you should absolutely bring that order with you. Do not be surprised if the school calls district police or law enforcement of other kinds to intervene if a solution cannot be agreed to by you and your child鈥檚 other parent.

We hope that today鈥檚 blog post has been informative for you and your family. Your child鈥檚 schooling is incredibly important to a family law case and you need to be aware of the factors that can impact them. Tomorrow we will be back to provide more information to you here on our blog about this subject.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about this or any other area of family law, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week here in our office. This is a great opportunity for you to sit down with an experienced attorney and receive direct feedback about your particular circumstances. Thank you for spending part of your day with us today.

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Frequently Asked Questions

At what age can a child choose which parent to live with in Texas?

In Texas, the age at which a child can express a preference for which parent to live with in a custody dispute is typically around 12 years old. However, the court will consider the child鈥檚 best interests as the primary factor in making the final decision.

Can one parent enroll a child in school without the other parent鈥檚 permission in Texas?

In Texas, both parents usually have equal rights when it comes to decisions regarding a child鈥檚 education. Generally, one parent cannot enroll a child in school without the consent or involvement of the other parent unless there is a court order granting one parent sole decision-making authority.

What happens if parents don鈥檛 send their child to school in Texas?

Texas has compulsory education laws that require children to attend school. If parents fail to send their child to school without a valid reason, they may face legal consequences, including fines or other penalties. It鈥檚 essential to comply with the state鈥檚 educational requirements.

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

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

Our divorcelawyers 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 divorcecases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, 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.