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Custody Rights at School (corrected) - Page 2

post #21 of 37
I am not a parent in a blended family, but I am a school administrator, and I can tell you that the law in my jurisdiction states that I can not deny a parent access to their child, unless there is a restraining order on file, and I have a copy of that in my records.

I can't speak for other jurisdictions, but where I live requiring one parent to give permission for the other parent to pick up is illegal.
post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momily View Post
...I am a school administrator, and I can tell you that the law in my jurisdiction states that I can not deny a parent access to their child, unless there is a restraining order on file, and I have a copy of that in my records.

I can't speak for other jurisdictions, but where I live requiring one parent to give permission for the other parent to pick up is illegal.
That is true here too, for preschools (and probably schools, though that's not my field, so I don't know for sure... the two sets of regulations generally align). Even with a restraining order on file, preschool staff are not supposed to deny the parent access, they are supposed to call the police if the parent shows up. A preschool who denied a parent access to their child, regardless of custody, would be breaking the law.
post #23 of 37
We can deny access if there is a restraining order, as long as the order specifies that individual can't be near the child or the school. In reality in that circumstance what we'd do in those circumstances is stall while we called the police, but we're in a big enough building, and close enough to the precinct that that would work (hmm, I think Kindergarten is on the playground, no maybe not let me call upstairs and see if they're there . . . ).
post #24 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
With regard to the kids' doctor: Did they ask about the divorce/custody situation, or was it offered by you or their dad? (And if they did ask, do they ask that of all patients who come in with only one parent, or do they only ask of dads?)
At the time, their Dad offered the info, just as I did with doctors and school here. I will note that, at that point in time, we got along well enough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
I can certainly see, if cooperation is a concern (or even an unknown), why a parent would make sure their kids' doctor knew about the decision-making protocols. (It's never been a problem with us--my husband and his ex are on the same page regarding vaccines, antibiotics, and general health care philosophies. At this point there's no "I'm taking our daughter for her yearly checkup and she'll get an MMR, is that OK?" discussion before every appointment, since OK and not OK have already been agreed upon--so I'm not speaking from practice here.)
By the time the HPV vax issue came up, it had been several years that cooperation was at a standstill (that's actually putting it mildly). I won't say that I was perfect, but I made a sincere effort to make sure that he had the same information I did, soon after I got it. If one of the kids had an appt, I'd let him know when it was, what it was for, the doc's phone number (whether he already had it or not) and to either let me know if he had any concerns or to call the doc directly. (Note - Since he was interested in taking them for physicals, I was more than happy for that to happen, but did expect the same level of feedback. Most appts that were on my time were for illness or injury - our youngest is an athlete and there were the normal sprains, strains, bumps, bruises).

So, yeah - I was quite shocked to discover when she came home and told me she'd gotten the first of the HPV series. I realize that it is a controversial issue, and that's not something I want to get into here. BUT, my feeling is (and this is something we agreed on when we were married) that she and I are the same gender, and I likely have more of an understanding in our reproductive parts than he does. Just as HE has more of an understanding of our son's, since they are the same gender. And when it comes to those parts, the same-gender parent should likely have the edge in medical decisions.
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by aricha View Post
That is true here too, for preschools (and probably schools, though that's not my field, so I don't know for sure... the two sets of regulations generally align). Even with a restraining order on file, preschool staff are not supposed to deny the parent access, they are supposed to call the police if the parent shows up. A preschool who denied a parent access to their child, regardless of custody, would be breaking the law.
Fortunately for me, the complete opposite is true where I live. I've seen several NCP stopped while the file was checked as to date and time of pick-up, and one call to a CP to check on an 'out of usual' pick-up.
post #26 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by junipermuse View Post
The truth of the matter is that most children are kidnapped by people they know, very often their own mother or father. It is not unreasonable then for a school... to seek to protect children from this. It should be the responsibility of the non-residential parent to demonstrate... that they are allowed to take the child...
Part of my complaint is that fathers are often treated with the presumption that they're a threat to the child or a kidnapping risk. Mothers aren't. If someone's ex is a danger, they should be expected to notify the school about it. (And I assume most parents with problem exes do.) If the school has NOT been notified that there's restricted access to the child, then a non-residential parent should be treated like any other parent. It should be assumed that if he's picking up his child, he's not kidnapping!

Quote:
Originally Posted by junipermuse View Post
Heck at the child watch at the Y where I work out, it doesn't even matter if you're still married, only the parent who drops off is allowed to pick up.
The Y Child Watch policy has nothing to do with concern over kidnapping and everything to do with the fact that Child Watch is not supposed to be used as free babysitting when people are out of the building. Having the same parent pick up and drop off helps ensure that the parent is actually at the Y while the kid's in Child Watch.
post #27 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momily View Post
...I am a school administrator, and I can tell you that the law in my jurisdiction states that I can not deny a parent access to their child, unless there is a restraining order on file, and I have a copy of that in my records.

I can't speak for other jurisdictions, but where I live requiring one parent to give permission for the other parent to pick up is illegal.
Yes. But how often is there a difference between the letter of the law and actual practice and enforcement?

Schools don't hire based on applicants' legal literacy (nor should they have to!!). When a mom hands over a restraining order, how closely does the staff member who puts it in the kid's file read it, and how much are they just relying on the mom to interpret for them what it means? What percentage of school employees understand that:
* A No Contact/Protective/Restraining Order may apply to Dad's contact with Mom, but not with the kids?
* Orders that don't include the kids are extremely easy to get. The man doesn't have to be convicted of anything. It's 100% he said/she said. So he may not have done anything. He may not even have been accused of anything that would make you question his kids' safety around him! Here, you can get a P.O. by claiming your ex "caused you to worry for your safety". Not only is that massively subjective, but to some women, that may mean he drives too fast, or that he raised his voice when she told him her child-molesting ex-boyfriend is moving back in with her and the kids! (Just an example! That hasn't happened in our family!)
* When a woman requests an order, she AUTOMATICALLY gets a Temporary Order - with any and all restrictions that she requested - until the hearing, which may be 6-8 weeks later. So, if that is what's given to the school, someone needs to check later whether the restrictions Mom requested about Dad's contact with their kids were actually ordered by the court, or dismissed.
* Such orders are often several pages long and include Mom's original request, pages detailing how the court amended her requests and another page making the order official. So, by omitting a page or two, Mom can make it appear that the court approved everything she requested, when in fact it rejected all the restrictions about contact between Dad and the kids.

And what actually happens to teachers or principals who side with or simply cave in to a pushy, hostile Mom who makes it misery for anyone to consider letting Dad come to school? Many dads realize if they call police to school to enforce their custodial rights, it will traumatize their kid, make them look like the bad guy...and in the end, a cop is just going to tell them it's a civil matter and they can't do anything; that Dad needs to take Mom back to court! How practical is it to start a lawsuit against your kid's school, if you're still paying for the legal battles with your ex?

Laws are only as good as the people who pay attention to them and the magnitude of the consequences for those who ignore them.
post #28 of 37
Jeannine,

I have to say that I'm a little offended. Your post seems to imply that school administrators are pretty dumb.

As far as who would know that -- I know at my school the principal and other school administrators, front desk staff, and school social workers know at a minimum the difference between a protective order that includes a child and one that doesn't. I also know that I've called parents to say "hey, your protective order is expiring, what's the situation?"

As far as the "you can't call the police because it will traumatize the child", that makes no sense to me. If we made a mistake and misinterpreted a document, and were telling a parent we couldn't bring their child from the classroom, and they called the police, and the police came and said "well, actually he can take his daughter", we'd collect the child from the classroom and that would be that. The child would never need to know. Then again we often have police in our building, because they're picking up their kids, or because they came in to inform us of something going on in the neighborhood, etc . . .

And if a noncustodial parent challenged us, and said "actually the law says X" which was different from our interpretation, then we'd check with our lawyers, and if they said "he's right" then that would be the end.

I'm not saying that there might not be a situation where we'd misinterpret and deny a parent access once, but I can't see how it would be an ongoing thing.
post #29 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momily View Post
Jeannine,

I have to say that I'm a little offended. Your post seems to imply that school administrators are pretty dumb.

As far as who would know that -- I know at my school the principal and other school administrators, front desk staff, and school social workers know at a minimum the difference between a protective order that includes a child and one that doesn't. I also know that I've called parents to say "hey, your protective order is expiring, what's the situation?"

As far as the "you can't call the police because it will traumatize the child", that makes no sense to me. If we made a mistake and misinterpreted a document, and were telling a parent we couldn't bring their child from the classroom, and they called the police, and the police came and said "well, actually he can take his daughter", we'd collect the child from the classroom and that would be that. The child would never need to know. Then again we often have police in our building, because they're picking up their kids, or because they came in to inform us of something going on in the neighborhood, etc . . .

And if a noncustodial parent challenged us, and said "actually the law says X" which was different from our interpretation, then we'd check with our lawyers, and if they said "he's right" then that would be the end.

I'm not saying that there might not be a situation where we'd misinterpret and deny a parent access once, but I can't see how it would be an ongoing thing.
Please don't be offended! Of course there are schools that handle these things correctly! It sounds like yours is one. Good for you. (My husband read your post and wishes you would advertise the name of your school, so all the non-custodial fathers who have problems with their kids' schools can either bribe their exes into moving into your district, or use your school as a model, to teach other schools how to handle things properly.)

My step-son attended three consecutive schools which handled these things poorly and I've heard complaints from other parents, so I know it's not just one school out there where non-custodial fathers have problems. And the problems are not just with school administrators! The attorneys for two different school systems my husband dealt with - in two different states - did not follow the laws... Because in the end (and this is really the issue I was trying to address, not all the personal specifics) a non-custodial parent's access rights are typically treated as a civil matter, not criminal - even in states like ours, where the letter of the law says denying a NCP's access to a child is just as much "custodial interference" as doing it to a CP. That means if a NCP calls the cops, even if the cops read the orders, they are often STILL trained to defer to the CP and tell the NCP to take her back to court...because denying the NCP's access to the child is not a crime, it's a civil offense, to be evaluated by a civil judge. It's not the purview of cops, prosecutors...or school system attorneys.

Ergo, despite common sense and how it sounds like things "should" work, Dads who ask cops to defend their right to pick up their kids at school are often disappointed with the result and later accused of being combative. ("The school staff isn't hostile toward my ex-husband because of what I'VE said about him, it's because he harasses them by calling the cops, who never side with him anyway. He just does it to cause a scene. See? Having him at school is disruptive to everyone. That's why I try to keep him away.")

As far as traumatizing the child, envision this scenario:
*A 4-year-old is repeatedly told by his mother, "Make sure you tell your teacher if you ever see Daddy around school, so someone can call the police and protect everyone. All the adults know he's too dangerous to have around your school."
*Dad arrives (to pick up the kid at the end of the day for a court-ordered visit, or to attend Daddy Day, or to exercise his legal right to meet his kid's teacher...)
*The teacher tells Dad to leave or she'll call the police.
*Dad says, "Go ahead, I'm sure they'll explain to you what my rights are."
*Cops arrive and tell Dad, "What your ex has instructed the school does not jive with your court orders, but this is a civil issue and she's the CP. Take her back to court. But right now, if she says you can't be here, you need to leave."
...What the 4-year-old walks away believing is that just like Mommy said the cops made Daddy leave his school because there's something dangerous about his Dad.

Momily, I'm glad you haven't had to deal with this stuff, but it's real for a lot of people.
post #30 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post
As far as traumatizing the child, envision this scenario:
*A 4-year-old is repeatedly told by his mother, "Make sure you tell your teacher if you ever see Daddy around school, so someone can call the police and protect everyone. All the adults know he's too dangerous to have around your school."
*Dad arrives (to pick up the kid at the end of the day for a court-ordered visit, or to attend Daddy Day, or to exercise his legal right to meet his kid's teacher...)
*The teacher tells Dad to leave or she'll call the police.
*Dad says, "Go ahead, I'm sure they'll explain to you what my rights are."
*Cops arrive and tell Dad, "What your ex has instructed the school does not jive with your court orders, but this is a civil issue and she's the CP. Take her back to court. But right now, if she says you can't be here, you need to leave."
...What the 4-year-old walks away believing is that just like Mommy said the cops made Daddy leave his school because there's something dangerous about his Dad.

Momily, I'm glad you haven't had to deal with this stuff, but it's real for a lot of people.
THIS! Unfortunately and sadly this is so true. I know several Dads this same type of scenario has happened to them. Cops will not enforce the custody papers. It's a civil case... so if you are dealing with an ex who wants to be spiteful, whatever, she is allowed to do so and keep alienating the child from Dad.

Many areas are still operating in the old backwards laws of Mom is CP, no questions asked... even if she doesn't always operate in the best interest of the child.

Things are much better between my DH and his ex now... but I can tell you how many times she hung DSD over his head like a pawn in the first year him and I were together... as well as threatening to take his name of the approved pick up list at DSD's school... and the cops he talked to about it told him straight out basically too bad too sad for you... take her to court.

It happens. It's crappy and disgusting... but it happens.
post #31 of 37
For starters, it's not just Dads who have these issues - it is non-custodial parents. Male AND female.

Secondly, it really is rather foolish for ANY divorced parent to not have at least a copy (I always make sure I had a *certified* copy) of their custody/visitation orders in my glove compartment. Because you just never know. W/o a copy of the order, the authorities are going to err on the side of caution - as they should. I knew that if I were to have a problem, I would be able to show the cops, principal, school attorney, Joe Schmoe at the gas station *exactly* what the situation was. And I'm a custodial parent. Yes, the cops WILL look at the papers and even if they don't enforce the orders (they actually cannot normally do so unless the order states that they are to), they will include that information in the report.
post #32 of 37
We've never supplied anyone with custody documentation, and neither has mom. Ther eis no reason for us to, and it is not information any of us feel other people need to have. It is an agreement between the parents and the court, and the enforcement of it is up to those people.

We have so many different copies that say so many different things, and separate agreements that have been made to change single sentences of the custody agreement... we could certainly carry around a copy of the document that says my husband has 52% custody, and there is nothing anywhere on it that says that isn't the most current agreement. Likewise, mom could show someone the one that says she has custody every Wednesday and Thursday, and there is nothing on there to indicate that is no longer the case. In my opinion, custody orders are only good if you are addressing custody in court, and they shouldn't be used for other things.

I agree that a parent who has a restraining order prohibitting the other parent from picking their child up needs to let the school/camp/doctor's office/sports coach, etc know that. And the school/camp/etc should ask for that request in writing along with any supporting documentation, and then should consult with their lawyer or local law enforcement to make a plan for what to do if that parent comes to pick up the child.

If a parent has not done so, the presumption should be that both parents should have access to their child. If the school doesn't know the parent who is picking up for the first time, they should check ID, as they would for anyone unknown picking up the child.

Third parties should not be in the habit of interpretting and enforcing custody agreements, IMO.
post #33 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
Since you have joint legal custody, your ex should still have access to school records, (depending on the state) the right to attend school events such as conferences and plays regardless of whether it falls during "his time," and so forth, WITHOUT permission slips. That seems to be the area of contention in the OP--that fathers are often denied things they have the legal right to (in her case, that also includes the right to pick up the kids directly on his days) without specific authorization from the mom. Not that her husband tries to pick up the kids when it's not his time and gets rebuffed.
Our Court is exact opposite. I have had Clients not put the non-custodial parent down as an authorized person to pick the child up, or a step parent down as authorized. In Client's defense, non-custodial parent didn't live within a reasonable travel distance to get the child from school in an emergency (as in 1-2 hours away). The only people custodial parent had put down were people who could be there quickly to get child in case of an emergency.

I have had the Court Order the custodial parent put down both Bio Parent and Step Parent as an authorized person to pick the child up from school.
post #34 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by khaoskat View Post
non-custodial parent didn't live within a reasonable travel distance to get the child from school in an emergency (as in 1-2 hours away). The only people custodial parent had put down were people who could be there quickly to get child in case of an emergency.
I always put my step-daughter's mom as an authorized person to pick my step-daughter up, even though she lives 3,000 miles away and it isn't her parenting time. It just feels like the right thing to do, even though there are virtually no circumstances in which she would be picking her daughter up, because even if a meteor struck both me and my husband, it would take her at least a day to travel here and one of the emergency contacts would have to pick her up in the meantime. But I feel like, on principle, it should be clear that she always is allowed access to her daughter. IF she misuses that by picking her up when it's not her parenting time, that's between my husband and her and the court if necessary.

I realize our situation is not the same as everyone's, but I think unless there is a restraining order or some other honest-to-goodness concern for a child's safety, both parents should always be authorized to have access to their children.
post #35 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by aricha View Post

I realize our situation is not the same as everyone's, but I think unless there is a restraining order or some other honest-to-goodness concern for a child's safety, both parents should always be authorized to have access to their children.
Ditto. My ex is always on the pick-up list although he is also not close enough to pick up in an emergency. In fact, he's number 2 on the list - I put myself first since the kids live with me and I can pick them up in case of an emergency. Alternates are a friend of ours and my parents.
post #36 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
THIS! Unfortunately and sadly this is so true. I know several Dads this same type of scenario has happened to them. Cops will not enforce the custody papers. It's a civil case... so if you are dealing with an ex who wants to be spiteful, whatever, she is allowed to do so and keep alienating the child from Dad.

Many areas are still operating in the old backwards laws of Mom is CP, no questions asked... even if she doesn't always operate in the best interest of the child.

Things are much better between my DH and his ex now... but I can tell you how many times she hung DSD over his head like a pawn in the first year him and I were together... as well as threatening to take his name of the approved pick up list at DSD's school... and the cops he talked to about it told him straight out basically too bad too sad for you... take her to court.

It happens. It's crappy and disgusting... but it happens.
This has happened quite a few times to my husband. When his ex has denied his rightful visitation, just because she thought she'd miss her son too much that weekend, or because at the last minute they decided to have a birthday party for some random uncle that weekend, she refused to bring their son to the transfer location. My husband called the police, had all the court paperwork in the vehicle as proof, the police tried to call her, she wouldn't answer, and the police said, sorry, there's nothing we can do. Take her back to court or something.

My husband has issues dealing with the administrators at his son's school for years because they unfortunately would believe his ex's stories. Although he had a legal right to information about his son's education, he always had to convince the staff to release that information to him, repeatedly resubmit paperwork to the schools regarding his rights and they'd still give him a hard time. When that school staff would become familiar with the truth and my husband, she'd yank him out of that school and enroll him in another along with submitting her bullshit stories. They'd at first believe her, then come to realize her craziness, round and round in circles. So, three years ago, she took him out of public school and home schools him. There is no longer anyone else but her for him to get info about their son's schooling. The staff at the schools were automatically in favor of the CP/Mom until proven they were wrong, but at least, eventually, they'd begin to see the light and treat him fairly.
post #37 of 37
In our case, YES Our kids are vax free, but knew my ex could be convinced to vax in a heartbeat. My current DH is a chiropractor and ExH was mad because DH signed Sage's physical paperwork for preschool (not a legal problem in our state- just saved me a trip across town) SO Ex got so mad, he wanted a clause addedd to the decree that states that Unless it is an extreme medical emergency, the children's Primary Care physician must always be Dr. So&So's Office. I agreed (no reason not to, I am the one who picked that Ped's office 8 years ago) and had a paragraph added that Vaccinations are NOT classified as medical emergencies and that neither parent had the right to have either of the children vaccinated, for any reason, without signed, notarized, consent, of both parents. It also states that if circumstances should change (health status, available vaccines, etc) no one has the right to decided upon or administer a new/changed vaccine, without both parents present and at the agreed upon Ped. office.

Pretty wordy, but I do not have to worry about ex trying to "sneak" vaccination. (And yes, we did sit with our Ped's office and discuss the H1N1 vaccine. They did not get it ) I sent- a copy of the front page of my divorce decree (lists my name, ex's name, and kids DOB's) along with a copy of the medical page (the vaccine things, and the statement that in the event that we disagree, the mother makes final medical decisions)- to the two county health departments near us. Ex was threatening to take them to one of the walk in clinics and have it given anyway since it only needed one parent signature. At first the medical director of the clinics was saying there was no way they could watch for 2 specific kids, how could they ever be expected to know which parents both agree and when there might be an issue going on. I agreed that he was right, they couldn't be expected to just know, but ~that in the case of my children~ I had provided names, SS#, DOB's, father's name, and copy of the court doc. that said MAY NOT VACCINATE~ So, yes, I expected them not to jab my kids! Since there were only 8 locations each day, and the same team of HD employees running the daily clinics, it should not be too difficult to have the registration person watch for their names

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
Hm...the doctor's office has never ever EVER required both parents' consent for anything. Yes, my SD's mom is supposed to get my husband's agreement for non-emergency care (beyond the day-to-day stuff like whether to give Tylenol for a fever) but the doctor's office, to my knowledge, has never asked. (Then again--why would they? Do doctor's offices routinely ask people, "are you divorced? is there a parenting agreement in place?")

To take this a step further...neither has the school (there was a vaccine clinic at school for H1N1--my SD had her's through the doctor so her mom declined, but my husband was never asked by the school). My husband's never been asked to sign a permission slip for anything, including for the testing for early kindergarten entry.

Does Claire's require both Mom and Dad's permission before letting a kid get her ears pierced? (I can answer that: No. My SD got hers pierced with her mom.) Does the DMV require two signatures for a driver's license? (That I don't know; I haven't looked at a driver application for a minor since I was 16.)

All of these are decisions that joint custody requires be made by both parents. But I don't think most third-parties even think to ask (especially if the one bringing the kid in is the mom). The parenting plan is between Mom and Dad and the court, not between Mom, Dad, the court, the doctor, the DMV, the piercing station at the mall, etc. I suppose there's an assumption that most of these things are worked out between the parents BEFORE they engage the third party (though schools, where pick-up is likely to occur, may be different).

Edit: I should add, my husband and his ex generally agree on the major life decisions. I could see where this would be a major problem if, say, one wanted to vax and the other didn't. I'm sure the non-vaxer would probably say something directly to the doctor (and school) so it would be on file.

My husband was also able to enroll his daughter in Sunday school without the church asking if he had the legal right to do so.
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