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Family court cases and their impact on your child’s school

If you are involved in any sort of child custody case, it is possible that a central topic, in that case, will be the performance of your child in the classroom. 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?

It is entirely possible that your attorney may subpoena school records from your child’s school. Typically, your attorney would want to review these records in order to make a determination as to how your parenting has impacted their performance in the classroom In addition to your child's grades, are your child's conduct, attendance, and health while at school. These sort of subpoenas are called "subpoena duces tecum" which is basically a request by your attorney for the school to produce records. A certificate will be filled out by the school records liaison that testifies to the authenticity of these records.

I had a child custody case that heavily involved a teenage child’s school records from their 8th-grade year. This child had been withdrawn from her public school by the opposing party (mother). The reasoning was that the school was not giving this child enough attention and was, therefore, leaving her behind. The mother then enrolled this child in an online school instead.

The issue was that this child had fallen way behind in school. She was missing class consistently, not turning in assignments, and the mother was not requiring her to do anything associated with this school. Our client (father) filed a modification case asking the judge to allow him more rights associated with raising his daughter. Specifically, he was asking for the right to determine the child’s primary residence and superior rights when it came to making educational decisions.

Our client had no access to the online school’s records, so we had to subpoena report cards, assignments, attendance policies for the school and other documents. We were able to receive the documents as requested and they were very important to our case. Our client was able to achieve a good result in his case, in part, because those school records were entirely in favor of his case.

Can administrators or teachers be asked to testify in your child’s case?

If your attorney would like to be able to ask an employee of your child’s school any questions in a trial, then the subpoena that is submitted must state that documents are being requested a well as their appearance in court. At the very least, your attorney could take the teacher’s deposition in advance of a trial so that the teacher does not need to be encumbered by the case.

The teacher or principal will likely not attend court happily. These folks are not at home in the courtroom and would prefer to not be involved in the family cases of their students. This is not to say that he or she will not appear in court, or that they will be less than professional. However, do not expect that he or she will be able to testify as eloquently or as well as you may hope. They may feel uncomfortable and this may be the first time he or

It is not a good idea to ignore a subpoena and therefore it is unlikely that the school administrator or teacher that you subpoena will do so. When a subpoena is received, the school district's attorney will be contacted. That lawyer will be able to make a determination as to whether or not your attorney drafted a legally valid subpoena that must be responded to. If you wait until the last minute to subpoena records or a person to testify then the subpoena may be tossed out.

In most cases, your attorney will be expected to submit a properly drafted and filed subpoena so any issues will be minimized as a result. As a result, the administrator or teacher will have to come to court as ordered and testify in front of you and your opposing party. Their attorney will prepare him or her as best as possible to tell the truth and present themselves well in your trial.

Interested in coming up with creative solutions to everyday problems in family law? Keep reading

If you have read through the past few blog posts from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan then you have come to the conclusion that you would like to do as much as possible to avoid landing in family court. It would be much simpler, less time invasive and achieve a better result for your kids if you and your opposing party could settle your case out of court. If you never have to see a judge throughout the length of your case then you will have accomplished those aforementioned goals.

Creative solutions are arrived at by creative problem-solving. We need to be able to achieve creative solutions to not only educational aspects of your case but generally when it comes to rights and duties. Joint Managing Conservators is what you will likely become or continue to be after a family law case. There is less of a fight in these situations over rights and duties, but more so over custody in and of itself.

For the remainder of today’s blog and on into blogs posted later this week on our website. We will be looking at the rights and duties of a parent (could be you) who is appointed as the sole managing conservator of your child and those of the parent who is appointed as a possessory conservator of your child. Also, we will consider the rights and duties for nonparent conservators if that more closely resembles your relationship to a child.

All of this is to say that it is not so much the title that you are given in your family law case that matters, it is the specific rights and duties that you are awarded that truly matter. It is highly likely that you will be appointed as joint managing conservator of your child unless your circumstances are truly extreme. The basic requirement of being appointed as a joint managing conservator is being a basic, fit parent. You do not need to be the parent of the year to be named as a joint managing conservator of your child.

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?

While we are discussing this subject, we may as well cover those topics that are the most likely to result in a great deal of argument and negotiation when it comes to rights and duties relating to your child.

The right to designate the primary residence of your child, the right to consent to medical and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures, the right to consent to psychiatric treatment, the right to receive child support payments and the right to make decisions regarding your child’s education are among the most highly contested of the rights and duties that you can hold in relation to your child.

When you are negotiating in order to determine which of these rights will be exclusively held by you or your child’s other parent it is foreseeable that there can be a great deal of disagreement. You can add notice or consultation requirements to any of these aforementioned rights and duties even though that is not specifically discussed in the Texas Family Code. An example of this can be seen when you may have the right to consent to psychiatric treatment in relation to your child only after you consult with the other parent first.

The true difficulty of negotiating with your opposing parent in cases like these that involve rights associated with your child is determining which parent will hold the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of your child, the right to make decisions regarding their education, the right to consent to medical and surgical treatment and the aforementioned issue with the right to consent to psychiatric treatment.

Even if you and your opposing parent were still married or together in a relationship but had different opinions regarding these type of subjects there would be some sort of tiebreaker in place in order to work out any differences between you and the other parent. Whatever tiebreakers that you and your opposing party want to implement can be worked into your court orders for future reference.

Reaching creative solutions regarding educational decisions

For more than ten years, families in Texas have been able to agree that their child’s residence would be restricted to a specific geographic area, rather than designating one parent as the one with the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence. While agreeing to this sort of language in your family orders may seem like a good thing all the way around, it can create issues when determining which school your child will attend.

A child in Texas may attend a school in the school district in which either you or your child’s other parent live in. The next issue that would need to be discussed revolves around which parent is able to make decisions regarding the educational future of your child. This issue is typically decided by seeing which parent is able to designate the primary residence of the child. That parent would hold more rights about decision making. However, if your child doesn’t have a primary residence this issue becomes one that will need to be negotiated.

Stay tuned to our blog tomorrow to find out more about this subject.

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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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. How to help your children succeed in school after a divorce
  2. How to help your children succeed in school after a divorce, Part Two
  3. What considerations to take when considering changing your child's school
  4. My Spouse Has Accused Me of Adultery in my Texas Divorce and I Haven't
  5. When is, Cheating Considered Adultery in a Texas Divorce?
  6. Sex, Lies, Rock-and-roll, and Adultery in a Texas Divorce
  7. Can I Sue My Spouse for Mental Abuse in My Texas Divorce?
  8. 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
  9. Texas Divorce Morality Clause: Be Careful What You Ask For
  10. What does Insupportability or No-Fault in a Texas Divorce Mean?

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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