Back to School for Children of Divorced Parents: Parent-Teacher Conferences

Summer has come to an end and the new school year is underway. This time of year can be challenging for any parent, as you will probably need to adjust to a new schedule, work through school-related stresses with your child, and get used to simply getting your child out of bed earlier in the morning. If you are a divorced or single parent, however, and subject to a child custody agreement, your child stands to benefit from a commitment to cooperation between his or her parents regardless of their current living situation. As a part of most schools’ fall schedule, parent-teacher conferences are just around the corner, so it is important to be prepared for such a meeting to ensure you make the most of the opportunity.

Together or Separate?

Depending on your specific custody agreement, you may be responsible for making all of the important life decisions regarding your child or you may share them with the other parent. Either way, if the other parent has maintained a serious, positive interest in helping your child grow and succeed, he or she will probably want to—and should—be included in the parent-teacher conference. You do not, however, need to all meet together. Your child’s teachers’ have worked with many divorced parents, and understand that the dynamic is different in each situation. You and the other parent should only agree to share a meeting time if you are certain that your personal differences can be set aside and you can remain focused on your child. Otherwise, meet separately with the teacher, being sure to address any and all concerns you have while maintaining civility regarding the other parent.

Can Anyone Else Come Too?

If either of you has been remarried or entered into a long-term romantic relationship, it is reasonable that the stepparent or pseudo-stepparent would take an interest in your child’s well-being as well. That does not mean, however, they are automatically entitled to participate in a parent-teacher conference. On the other hand, if you have a good relationship with your ex and his or her new partner—which seems to be increasingly common in recent years—you may not have a problem with it. It is important for new partners to respect the boundaries set by the biological parents, no matter what they may feel they have to offer.

Include the Teacher

Your child’s teacher is not responsible for mediating disputes between you and the other parent. He or she is responsible, however, for your child for a significant part of the day, five days a week. The teacher should be made aware of your child’s living and parenting situation, so that no unpleasant surprises pop up. For example, should the teacher accept permission slips for activities signed by either parent or just by you? Is that covered in your custody agreement or do you just want it that way? Keeping your child’s teacher informed and involved can also help him or her to understand your child better and to be alert for signs of potential problems.

If you are currently subject to a child custody order and are unsure of your responsibilities related to your child’s education, contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney today. We can help you understand you rights and obligations, and to seek an order modification if the situation requires it. Call Kezy & Associates at 708-518-8200 to schedule your free consultation.