Many parents who are in the midst of a divorce don’t often realize how important a role education can play in the awarding of custody. That makes this week, the first week of the new school year, particularly important to such parents.
Let’s look at why.
Family court judges are tasked by the Texas Family Code to make decisions based on their assessment of what is in the “best interest of the child.”
Courts look at parental involvement in school activities
Education has a big part to play in this because when a parent is given custody by the court, they are provided a number of rights such as:
- Receiving information from others concerning the education of the child;
- Making decisions concerning the education of the child;
- Gaining access to educational records of the child;
- Consulting with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities;
- Attending school activities.
Therefore, this means that parents who take an active and responsible role in their child’s education will be seen in a favorable light by the court in a custody dispute.
The start of the school year is very important because it provides a renewed opportunity for divorcing parents to demonstrate their involvement in their child’s education.
Actions to take to improve school involvement
We can then make the following suggestions which are relevant, not only to divorcing parents but is good advice to all parents:
1. Attend teacher-parent meetings. Go so far as to request monthly meetings to follow your child’s educational progress and learn of any difficulties so they can be addressed.
2. Attend your child’s extracurricular school activities, if possible.
3. If your schedule does not allow for school meetings or visits, then be involved with the school through email. Check the school’s website regularly for activities. Email the teacher to be in touch. There is software online that can be downloaded to assist in this. Download it and use it.
4. Have and enforce a schedule at home that is conducive to your child’s schooling. This means having bedtime rules, a time set aside for homework and playtime, and keeping these things regular.
5. Be active in checking over your child’s homework assignments. Don’t hesitate to look through their backpack, looking for school announcements, papers or assignments. Contact the teacher or school should you find something that they should know or something you have questions about. Help your child and school authorities.
6. Know your children’s friends and their parents. Invite them to birthday parties or attend birthday parties, but meet them. Go with your child to visit them. It is important that you be actively interested and knowledgeable about your child’s doings and who they are in contact with.
It is important to understand about the above that the courts are not looking for harsh discipline. They are looking for an environment that will help the child grow and develop their potential.
A parent doing the above six things in a positive way may be seen in a more favorable light by the court.