How you and your ex-spouse handle educational decision-making for your child after the divorce depends on who has legal custody of the child. Before a divorce, as parents, you and your spouse had joint input into educational decisions for your child. After the divorce, your ability to make educational decisions for your child is governed by your separation agreement or the court’s order. If you have sole legal custody, you are the sole educational decision-maker for your child. If you and your now ex-spouse have joint legal custody, you and your ex must agree on educational decisions for your child. If you have joint legal custody with tie-breaker authority on educational issues, if you and your spouse cannot agree on an educational issue, after good faith consultation, you have authority to make the educational decision for your child.
How does that work in practice? In Maryland, even if a parent has sole legal custody, the other parent still has access to the child’s educational records, unless the court orders otherwise. That means that the parent without legal custody can still receive communications and e-mails from the school and review school and educational records. The school often still allows the parent to attend parent-teacher conferences or other meetings. The parent without legal custody can also attend school events and extracurricular activities.
If you and your ex are unable to attend a joint parent-teacher conference in peace, you can request separate parent-teacher conferences. If you don’t want to be responsible for forwarding e-mails and other communications from the school, make sure that both spouses sign up to receive e-mail communications. Many teachers will also create two folders so that both households receive the same information.
It’s also a good idea to alert your child’s counselor of any issues that may affect your child’s well-being, including an ongoing conflict between you and your ex. Many schools have support groups available to children whose parents are divorcing. It is important that you do your best to keep conflict out of your child’s school community, but if you are unable to do so, take advantage of whatever measures are available in the school to make sure that any impact on your child is addressed and minimized. A child can be impacted by even the most amicable of divorces, and the stress can result in poor performance at school or behavioral issues. A counselor or therapist can give your child age-appropriate tools to help process the divorce in a healthy way.
If you have questions about Child Custody, Guardianship or any other Family Law issue please contact Catherine H. “Kate” McQueen at (240) 507-1718 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT KATE MCQUEEN
Catherine H. “Kate” McQueen is a family lawyer and principal in Offit Kurman’s Bethesda office and is licensed to practice in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Ms. McQueen focuses her practice on the many legal issues that impact families, including all the issues arising out of a divorce, such as custody, child support, alimony, and other financial and property issues. She also has extensive experience in guardianship matters for children and incapacitated adults, including assisting clients in petitioning for guardianship, serving as court-appointed counsel for alleged disabled persons, and serving as court-appointed guardian for individuals when their family members or friends are unwilling or unable to do so.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
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