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#31 of 56 Old 05-04-2009, 09:16 AM
 
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All of this info about how schools are gatekeepers shows that schools make an awful lot of assumptions. When it was time to sign DSD up for kindergarten, DH did all of that. And at the time, he technically had no parenting rights to DSD. I guess DSD's mom is lucky that he put her on the emergency contact form, because neither of them had any custody paperwork until after she started 1st grade.

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How does one go about finding moderator for a parental agreement?
I don't know how to find one other than getting referred through a lawyer (although it is probably as easy as looking in the phone book under "mediation services" or something like that). It might be an expensive proposition, though.

When it was time for DH and DSD's mom to do theirs, DH went to DSD's mom and said to her, "Hey, we can do this the cheap way, or the expensive way." The cheap way being work it out between themselves and then have a lawyer draw up the paperwork, and the expensive way being both of them go to a mediator/hire lawyers to battle it out.

It took a long time to hammer out the details. Months. The process in full took about a year, I think. Maybe more. DH drew up the parenting agreement as he thought it should work, and they would meet at a neutral, public place and discuss the finer points. The financial details were also in this agreement, and those proved to be the sticking point for them. When they hit a deadlock, they would just try again in a few weeks. Eventually, they got it worked out.

DH did spend a lot of time focusing on staying calm, no matter how irate or angry DSD's mom got. Eventually, I think that she realized that she was going to look pretty silly shouting at him in a public place with him not shouting back. He also had to make a conscious effort to not get into arguments about the past - who screwed who over back in the day. Those discussions were not productive and only fueled animosity. So every time DSD's mom would try to bring something up, he shut her down.

So it might not have been the easy way to do things, but it certainly saved a lot of money. It also probably got them used to calmly discussing things that they disagreed on, and they wound up with an agreement that everyone could live with, because they both had to give a little to make it work.

And even doing it that way, with the lawyer just drawing up paperwork and filing things, it still ran $2000.

I don't know how anyone could share custody of a child without one of those agreements, though. It is so nice to have a document spelling out every little thing. It saves a lot of arguing because everyone is already on the same page.

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#32 of 56 Old 05-04-2009, 05:13 PM
 
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pinksprklybarefoot - that's exactly what exdp and I did. Our separation is completely uncontested (well, on paper - it took weeks of work) and it still cost close to $3000.

There's no way either one of us could have afforded a long, drawn out battle.

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#33 of 56 Old 05-04-2009, 11:47 PM
 
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There's no way either one of us could have afforded a long, drawn out battle.
I have no idea how people afford these things when they really battle it out. By the time a divorcing couple stops arguing about the money, there won't be any left because the lawyers fees will take it all up! Not to hijack the thread or anything... and no offense intended to those of you going into the legal profession.

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#34 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 02:01 PM
 
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All it should take is a copy of the birth certificate and his driver's license. They should never assume that one parents has custody unless they have been given a copy of a court order.

Also, this wouldn't work at our local schools because they don't mail things, lol. It comes home in the kid's backpack.
I'm not saying it's right or fair (although I don't disagree with the policy), but here both the daycare and school require confirmation from the CP that it's alright to share information with the NCP.

Even though in our case there's no issue, I still had to bring in a copy of our court order showing that exdp could pick up the girls every second Friday after school. Even though he's on the contact list, if he showed up tonight (Tuesday) they would not release the kids to him.

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#35 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What if there was an emergency or something? DSD's school has already contacted us to pick DSD up when she got sick there because they could not reach her Mom. It wasn't on "our" normal day... so if that happened at your school, what would you do?

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#36 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 03:14 PM
 
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What if there was an emergency or something? DSD's school has already contacted us to pick DSD up when she got sick there because they could not reach her Mom. It wasn't on "our" normal day... so if that happened at your school, what would you do?
Oh - in that case it would be okay. I have myself as the primary contact - work/cell/home, then exdp, then my mother and father.

If they couldn't get ahold of me, they would contact exdp as the first 'emergency contact'. However, because he's not the residential parent, if he were to show up unannounced - they would call me.

I only know this because it happened.

He (after we talked about it) went to snag the girls after school and the secretary said that because they had a copy of our court order, and it only stipulated alternating Fridays - she couldn't release them without a verbal consent from me.

Soooo, part of me appreciates the fact that my kids are safe (what if he wasn't allowed to get them, what if he was a flight risk, blah blah blah) part of me was embarassed for exdp.

Thankfully he's the kind of guy who thought it was hilarious and now has a running joke with the staff at the school about showing up at random times to test them, see if they're on their feet, etc.

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#37 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well that may be great for you since your ex and you seem to get along...

But this has me really concerned that ex could really prevent us from picking DSD up if we wanted to. Their divorce papers do not specifically spell out the exact visitation stuffs as they were agreeable at the time.

It seems she is "okay" for the moment, but things are definitely tense around here.

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#38 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 03:19 PM
 
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Not necessarily related to step parenting, but my son's teacher refused to allow my dh to pick him up one day... there's only been a handful of days this school year when I couldn't pick him up, and I hadn't told the teacher there was going to be a change, and the teacher was like "who are you, and where is Mom?" They were able to get ahold of me so I could confirm this, but it still seemed (seems?) insane. I wonder what they would have done if I hadn't been available... the pick up list that the office maintains is pretty lengthy (includes: myself, dh, ex-h (though he's not local, so there's not really any point) my mother, a slew of neighbors (6 of them, atleast) and one of dh's coworkers. What was really funny is that a few weeks before that, I was running late to get home, and ds was released to one of the neighbors on the list, who happens to be employed by the school, on neighbors word only. LOL

I don't think that it's necessarily a bad thing to run the situation by a custodial parent, but as far as I've ever been told, a school or daycare cannot refuse to allow a non-custodial parent access to the child, even if it isn't their time. Probably the most the school or daycare could do is to stall until Mom and/or the police could arrive.
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#39 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 03:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
Well that may be great for you since your ex and you seem to get along...

But this has me really concerned that ex could really prevent us from picking DSD up if we wanted to. Their divorce papers do not specifically spell out the exact visitation stuffs as they were agreeable at the time.

It seems she is "okay" for the moment, but things are definitely tense around here.
Oh JSMa

Absolutely, it would be a nightmare if we weren't on the same page re: the kids. I'm not one to run screaming to my attorney for every little thing, but I'd look into it. Just find out exactly what your rights are re: your SD when it's not your specific parenting time.

For example: our court order is very vague regarding the kids birthdays. It simply says that we are required to make arrangements for both parents to have access. Because we fight about everything BUT the kids, this works for us - for other parents it would be a nightmare. What exactly is 'access', right?

I hope it comes together for you. Personally I read in this forum because it helps me come to grips with the bigger reality of being part of a (someday) step-family. Lots of the stories in here both resonate with me... and scare the pants off me.

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#40 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 05:27 PM
 
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Not necessarily related to step parenting, but my son's teacher refused to allow my dh to pick him up one day... there's only been a handful of days this school year when I couldn't pick him up, and I hadn't told the teacher there was going to be a change, and the teacher was like "who are you, and where is Mom?" They were able to get ahold of me so I could confirm this, but it still seemed (seems?) insane. I wonder what they would have done if I hadn't been available... the pick up list that the office maintains is pretty lengthy (includes: myself, dh, ex-h (though he's not local, so there's not really any point) my mother, a slew of neighbors (6 of them, atleast) and one of dh's coworkers. What was really funny is that a few weeks before that, I was running late to get home, and ds was released to one of the neighbors on the list, who happens to be employed by the school, on neighbors word only. LOL

I don't think that it's necessarily a bad thing to run the situation by a custodial parent, but as far as I've ever been told, a school or daycare cannot refuse to allow a non-custodial parent access to the child, even if it isn't their time. Probably the most the school or daycare could do is to stall until Mom and/or the police could arrive.
I was actually thinking about this situation. If, for examle, I always drop off pick up my daughter from school, would they then refuse dp because he doesn't have a court order stating that he is allowed to? We are not married and have different last names. For that matter, I Have a different last name than dd-would they deny me the right to pick her up bc I couldn't prove anything if dp were the primary drop off pickup person? How far does this go?

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#41 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 05:31 PM
 
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Oh, also, OP, check with the school. When dsd's mom went on vacation for 2 weeks, I just wrote a note to the school giving all of our contact info. (including my cell phone) to call if there was an emergency. This was a note signed by me, not dp, and the nurse did end up calling me to pick up dsd one day without any problems. To my knowledge, they did not call dsd's mom to confirm this, and I know the nurse did not call her first because she didn't know dsd was sick when I called to let her know. Maybe this is because dp and I have been to the school before for meet the teacher, etc.,or because dsd is vocal about her many parents or whatever, but I think that there are definitely ways to make sure you are not getting pushed out of her school life. Good luck again.

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#42 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 07:24 PM
 
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I am not sure this idea will work. I work the front desk at an elementary school, and a guy calling or coming in saying he was so and so's father and put him on the mailing list would get nowhere fast. I'd politely take his information, but wouldn't add him to anything until I contacted the parent who brought the kid to our school, to see if it was on the up and up. So in all likelihood, DSD's mom will still have the final say on that - unless he has legal paperwork. Sounds messy.
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I disagree. At my school what would happen is that we would check the birth certificate. If his name was on it and there were no restraining orders on file, then I HAVE to give him full access to his child. Do you have shared legal custody? You could put in writing the info you need and have a lawyer request it for a paper trail. When she is registered in school, make sure your dh's name is on everything. Here, most things are not sent home, but we could request that a child is given two copies of all notices. Honestly, it really irked me when dss's NCmom always saw everything as my responsiblity. She wanted me to give her info on dss's grades, on events at his school, etc. when she was perfectly capable of calling them herself. But, I wasn't hiding information from her or purposely avoiding anything. One thing she did do was try to get written in the parenting agreement that once a month we would send her pictures, copies of school work, information from school, etc. That parenting agreement was never completed, but you specifiy some of this information in a parenting agreement.
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#43 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 07:28 PM
 
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I would never accept a copy of birth certificate and his (or her) driver's license as proof that person is allowed specific details about the child's life at school. Wouldn't have any idea if there was a protection order or not. I know a woman for whom this is the case. If the non-custodial parent should have access to that information, I'd assume that either 1) parent who brought child in would give me that information or 2) I'd get information from the court.
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Maybe it differs from state to state? I've worked day care and schools and UNLESS there is a restraining order ON FILE at school, either parent can come get the child, and access their records. If a NCP shows up and wants to take a kid, all I can do is call the CP and let them know, but I have no right to refuse them their child. There isn't a paper that says NCP gets access. The NCP has equal parental rights. Schools don't deal with custody orders and visitation (how would we know which one was most current?) all we deal with is restraining orders.
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#44 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 08:00 PM
 
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Maybe it differs from state to state? I've worked day care and schools and UNLESS there is a restraining order ON FILE at school, either parent can come get the child, and access their records. If a NCP shows up and wants to take a kid, all I can do is call the CP and let them know, but I have no right to refuse them their child. There isn't a paper that says NCP gets access. The NCP has equal parental rights. Schools don't deal with custody orders and visitation (how would we know which one was most current?) all we deal with is restraining orders.
But the point is that NCP do not have equal parental rights (in the eyes of the law and/or the school) - that's why they are the non custodial parent. They don't have the same access as the custodial parent. It is the responsibility of the CP to ensure the school has the most recent court order or agreement.

For example, my exdp and I have joint custody with regard to education and medical decision making. BUT, I have residential custody and our court order states that I have the day to day care of the kids and that they live with me. Hence, if he showed up there - the kids would not be released to him. That is not his right, per our court order.

It definitely varies school to school and daycare to daycare. Obviously if they don't know the parents are separated, and that there even is a 'CP' and an 'NCP', the school would have no idea. However, at the school my kids go to they request a copy of the court order(s) and base access on that.

I do realize that in this forum there are a lot of NCP. However, from the view point of the school (and these are actual scenarios, not what-ifs) a NCP could possibly be a flight risk or simply giving the CP a hard time. Now, this is something that could be raised in court, but in the meantime it could be giving the CP a heart attack.

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#45 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 09:53 PM
 
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I do realize that in this forum there are a lot of NCP. However, from the view point of the school (and these are actual scenarios, not what-ifs) a NCP could possibly be a flight risk or simply giving the CP a hard time. Now, this is something that could be raised in court, but in the meantime it could be giving the CP a heart attack.
And vise-versa.

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#46 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 10:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And vise-versa.

DITTO!! I am not understanding why the NCP does not have equal rights to THEIR child?? I'm under the impression that even the most basic custody papers will give joint legal as long as there is no abuse etc...

Who are the schools to decipher a custody agreement... If they intpretted something wrong because they didn't understand the legalese or didn't have the most recent copy...I'd feel very inclined to sue them for keeping a parent and their child separated.

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#47 of 56 Old 05-05-2009, 11:58 PM
 
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It must vary state to state. Here, (and I noticed another California post was the same) I absolutely have to release the child to either biological parent. Schools do not keep track of custody/vistation. The school secretary does not have the right to deny a parent their child. It would be the other parent's job to a. have a restraining order in the first place or b. call the police if it was improper. When I did daycare I had to inform parents of that. I had one NCP mom who kept showing up to "visit" with the daughter and there wasn't a thing I could do about it. She still had her parental rights which trumped any power I had. All I could do was call the dad and let him know.

The parents (here) have equal rights as far as access to medical/school records, right to seek and approve medical care, even when they do not have equal parenting time.

In any case, you should find out what the laws are for your state. I'd suggest you look for some "dad's rights" websites or organizations in your state. I have used the website divorcesource.com it has a lot of non custodial dads on it and they all seem to be well aware of their rights. It might an eye-opener. Or, it might be depressing.
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#48 of 56 Old 05-06-2009, 12:13 AM
 
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But the point is that NCP do not have equal parental rights (in the eyes of the law and/or the school) - that's why they are the non custodial parent. They don't have the same access as the custodial parent.
My husband has less physical time with his daughter than her mother does (and most people might, therefore, consider him the "non-custodial parent"), yet he has just as much right to his daughter as her mother does. If he picks her up from school when it is not his parenting time, it is a matter for her mother to bring before the family court... just as it would be if she picked their daughter up during his custody time.

If my husband or his ex gave the school a copy of their court documents, with regard to the school year it says that my husband has a certain amount of time each month, but not what days are his parenting time. There is also additional time during the school year that is not limited to any given month. There would be no way for them to know if he was picking up on "his" time or not based on the court order.

Unless the school has a signed court document that says that a parent is NOT authorized to remove the child from school, or is not allowed any access to the child whatsoever, I don't think a school is in any position to try to interpret and enforce a custody agreement. I certainly wouldn't want that responsibility!

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#49 of 56 Old 05-06-2009, 01:01 AM
 
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My dsd's came to live with us when we were in Washington State. The new school we enrolled them in required copies of the restraining order in and the custody papers. They could not uphold any scheduling but they could uphold the restraining order.
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#50 of 56 Old 05-06-2009, 08:31 AM
 
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I have full physical and legal custody of my kids and my X has "reasonable visitation". He is not on any of the pick-up paperwork at my kids schools, and the school wouldn't even recognize him if he walked to the door. However, they do know my parents and my sweetheart, and would release them to any of them with my word. I might just be nosy enough to call down there today and ask what the policy is, and what they would do if X did try to pick them up...
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#51 of 56 Old 05-06-2009, 10:29 AM
 
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DITTO!! I am not understanding why the NCP does not have equal rights to THEIR child?? I'm under the impression that even the most basic custody papers will give joint legal as long as there is no abuse etc...

Who are the schools to decipher a custody agreement... If they intpretted something wrong because they didn't understand the legalese or didn't have the most recent copy...I'd feel very inclined to sue them for keeping a parent and their child separated.
I'm not sure how to explain it properly. I really do honestly understand your position; my exdp and I are very friendly and talk about a lot of these issues very honestly. So I see where he comes from and what he struggles with.

Perhaps I worded it wrong. Let me try again. In our case we DO have joint legal custody - he has every bit as much a say in educational and medical decisions as I do. We have to agree on these things, or seek mediation.

In terms of pure physical custody though, our court order clearly states (not in legal terminology at all) that his parenting time is every second Friday at six pm until Sunday at six pm.

That's why if he showed up at the school on a Tuesday afternoon, they would not release our children to him - it's not his parenting time.

In our case (and my gosh I do realize YMMV) there's nothing extreme in regards to custody. Neither one of us would do anything foolish - but there are parents who have picked up their children (mothers & fathers) when it was not their time - merely to spite the other person.

So, again - in our case, he could call the school at any time and have access to records & information, he could go in to meet the teacher & principal - but he could not leave with our children without a verbal consent from me.

JSMa - you and your husband are well within your rights to contact the school and let them know that you should be put on the parental contact list. Defintely start a relationship with your DSD's teacher; lots of teachers use email now to keep parents in the loop about extracurriculars, conferences, etc.

No parent should be shut out of their child's life - CP or NCP.

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#52 of 56 Old 05-06-2009, 12:04 PM
 
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I'm not sure how to explain it properly. I really do honestly understand your position; my exdp and I are very friendly and talk about a lot of these issues very honestly. So I see where he comes from and what he struggles with.

Perhaps I worded it wrong. Let me try again. In our case we DO have joint legal custody - he has every bit as much a say in educational and medical decisions as I do. We have to agree on these things, or seek mediation.

In terms of pure physical custody though, our court order clearly states (not in legal terminology at all) that his parenting time is every second Friday at six pm until Sunday at six pm.

That's why if he showed up at the school on a Tuesday afternoon, they would not release our children to him - it's not his parenting time.

In our case (and my gosh I do realize YMMV) there's nothing extreme in regards to custody. Neither one of us would do anything foolish - but there are parents who have picked up their children (mothers & fathers) when it was not their time - merely to spite the other person.

So, again - in our case, he could call the school at any time and have access to records & information, he could go in to meet the teacher & principal - but he could not leave with our children without a verbal consent from me.

JSMa - you and your husband are well within your rights to contact the school and let them know that you should be put on the parental contact list. Defintely start a relationship with your DSD's teacher; lots of teachers use email now to keep parents in the loop about extracurriculars, conferences, etc.

No parent should be shut out of their child's life - CP or NCP.
Public or private school? I just can't imagine a school wanting to get involved in this sort of thing. There have been so many years when our parenting agreements were out of date. Like it said things about preschool until he was in 4th grade. There are also always little things we trade (like switch mon for tues) but don't want to go back to court when we all agree. Also, they would release to your parents but not to the childrens father? That is shocking to me. If you had to pick up your kids on Friday when it was official "his" time, would they refuse you? Here if parent picked up a child when it wsn't his parenting time, it would be a matter for the courts or the police, but not the school. I'm a teacher and when I take roll, I can see the restraining orders. Other than that, I'm not told a thing about custody. Both biological parents are listed as "parents" with a check mark next to the one who lives with the child. That is all we know.
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#53 of 56 Old 05-06-2009, 12:20 PM
 
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Public or private school? I just can't imagine a school wanting to get involved in this sort of thing. There have been so many years when our parenting agreements were out of date. Like it said things about preschool until he was in 4th grade. There are also always little things we trade (like switch mon for tues) but don't want to go back to court when we all agree. Also, they would release to your parents but not to the childrens father? That is shocking to me. If you had to pick up your kids on Friday when it was official "his" time, would they refuse you? Here if parent picked up a child when it wsn't his parenting time, it would be a matter for the courts or the police, but not the school. I'm a teacher and when I take roll, I can see the restraining orders. Other than that, I'm not told a thing about custody. Both biological parents are listed as "parents" with a check mark next to the one who lives with the child. That is all we know.
These things vary so widely, eh? My two kids go to public school. It does have a restricted entry, parents have to sign in and out, and are not allowed in the school hallways unaccompanied by a staff member. For example, I can't run dd's lunch up to her class. She has to come to the office to get it, the receptionist brings it to her, or if I insist on going, someone will bring me.

Anyway, to answer some questions: they would not release my kids to my parents without my verbal consent first, or if they couldn't reach exdp in an emergency - as they are the next contact on the emergency list. If they just showed up, nope - they couldn't have them.

If we do a switcheroo for one day (like he picks them up for dinner during the week) I need to call the school and let them know what time he'll be there. We've never encountered the issue of me picking them up on his parenting time, because school is out at 3:30 - I get them at school, he picks them up at my place at 6:00.

As far as being in a situation with an 'out of date' court order, I could get in BIG trouble for that. It's my responsibility as the CP to make sure the school has a) accurate documentation and b) accurate contact information - for all parties involved.

For example: I got heat one time for making arrangements with exdp to pick up the girls for me when I was going out. The school had to track me down on my cell phone while my ex had to sit there twiddling his thumbs waiting for confirmation. I do realize I'm really lucky in that he appreciates the fact the school is very strict and feels it's keeping the girls safe, as opposed to taking it personally.

When we did enrollment (which incidentally we did together) they told us several horror stories of the CP (mom or dad) coming to get the kids after school and them already being gone with the NCP or a grandparent and the confusion - police being called, trying to track down the other parent.

Soooo, I make it an utmost priority to stick to our schedule as much as possible, but in the event that plans change, I make sure to take two minutes to call the school and let them know. Also, if I send someone who the staff hasn't met before - they ask for photo ID. The first time my mum picked up dd from after school care, dd ran down the hall screaming 'Nana! Nana!' and they still asked to see her ID.

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#54 of 56 Old 05-06-2009, 02:13 PM
 
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Actually, all that is true here, too except if the father was on the birth certificate the children would be released to him unless there was a restraining order in place. Even if he isn't listed as an emergency contact. We don't list dss's mother as an emergency contact because as his biological parent, she can have acess at any time. So many blended families don't even have a formal court order for custody. It took us two years to create one we all agreed upon! I wonder what they do in that case. We also do IDs, sign in and out, can't have parents in the hall without a pass, etc. I assume it must differ state by state because when I did child care I was trained that it was the "law" (apparently not federal) that all children must be released to either biological parent.
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#55 of 56 Old 05-06-2009, 02:25 PM
 
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I'm in Ontario, so definitely I can see there being vast differences.

You raise an interesting point though regarding families without any formal agreements. I'm not sure what would happen there - obviously the kids would be released to either parent, but I guess if one parent wanted it changed (as with any issue re: custody) they'd have to pursue it legally.

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#56 of 56 Old 05-06-2009, 08:17 PM
 
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I know this is a slightly different situation but it is clearly in-line with what Ceinwen is saying about school policy - or more broadly, an institutional policy.

I know of a specific hospital that has a policy of not letting a parent in to see their child if they do have a parent band or the password. No exceptions- especially if that parent is not on the BC.

I don't know what our school would do if the NCP showed to pick dd up without me notifying them first. I think I may ask what their policy is since they only have a copy of her BC and what info I put on the paperwork. They never asked for copies of the custody order.
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