08 Sep KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS WHEN CO-PARENTING SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN
As if parenting school-aged children – especially in 2020 – were not challenging enough, being a divorced or separated parent presents additional issues and questions. Thankfully, Minnesota has laws in place to protect and assist both parents when it comes to making decisions and remaining involved in your child’s education after a separation.
Custody and Decisionmaking
In most custody cases, parents will be awarded joint legal custody. This means that major decisions such as where your child will go to school and what services he or she may receive must be made together. If one parent has been awarded sole legal custody, then that parent may make those decisions on their own.
Regardless of the custody labels and parenting time schedule, Minnesota law gives each parent certain rights as relates to their child’s education. Minn. Stat. § 518.68. Unless an order has specifically revoked those rights to protect the welfare of a parent or child:
- Each parent has the right to access and receive copies of school records.
- Each parent has the right to receive other important information about the child relating to the child’s welfare, education progress and attendance.
- Each parent has the right to know the name and address of their child’s school.
- Each parent has the right to attend school conferences (the school, however, is not required to hold separate conferences unless a no contact order is in place between the parents).
Practical Steps to Take
- Contact the school directly to open up the lines of communication. Do not rely on the other parent to do that for you. Do not expect the other parent to keep you informed.
- Make sure you know your child’s teacher(s) and that you have their contact information. Make sure they have your contact information and that you are included on any mailing and call lists.
- Participate in your child’s classroom as may be allowed. Attend a field trip.
- Get to know your child’s teachers. Attend conferences.
- Make sure you have all login information for school portals. Use the portal.
- Monitor your child’s progress and attendance.
- Know the names and contact information for your child’s coaches and other activity leaders. Make sure you are included on all mailing and call lists.
- Consider asking the school’s policy about having lunch with your child if doing so would not be too disruptive for your child.
- Attend activities, plays, concerts, field days and the like. Introduce yourself.
Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent of a child in school, be sure you know your rights and duties when it comes to their education. Contact Rebecca to schedule a courtesy consultation to discuss any questions or concerns you have about parenting school-aged children as a separated parent.
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Authored by: Rebecca R. Baer, Esq.