Custody Rights at School (corrected) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 37 Old 02-09-2010, 10:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Evidently, I went about this the wrong way at first, by quoting a comment from the "Custody Change" thread. Sorry! I didn't realize that was taboo. I'm just trying to start a new thread, so I don't get too off-topic in the "Custody Change" one.

I'm interested in an issue that was raised elsewhere: a non-residential parent being required to get permission slips from the residential parent in order to pick up their child from school or take their child to the doctor; and situations where a child is refused admittance to their non-residential parent's neighborhood school... even when the parents have joint legal custody.

Generally, I think such things happen when local guidelines and practices haven't been updated since the days Mom customarily "got the kids" in a divorce (just as she might "get the house" or "get the car") and Dad became "just a visitor". Today, of course, courts typically value letting both parents play parental roles. In many places, joint legal custody is standard and some courts are trending toward 50-50 physical custody. There can be confusion when court orders do not clearly define one parent as "custodial" and the other as "non-custodial", but institutions like schools and hospitals are still mired in the assumption that one and only one divorced parent makes decisions for a child.

I know well, from my husband's experiences, how hurtful and frustrating that confusion can be. His court orders and our state guidelines clearly spelled out his right to unfettered access to his son's school; his right to seek medical care for his son; his right to access all of his son's records; and his "right of first refusal" (i.e. the right to parent his son whenever his ex was unavailable - even if it was not his scheduled parenting time - and never have daycare or babysitters take priority over him). Yet, he was routinely denied admittance to his son's schools, not allowed to pick up his son after school on his parenting time days, not allowed to pick up his son from daycare or the sitter's, and refused copies of his son's school and medical records, unless he had permission slips from his ex.

Even when a residential parent is cooperative and willing to write all the appropriate permissions, it is still humiliating for the non-residential parent to ask for and use them. There is an unmistakable message that the NRP is not really a parent; that only the RP is qualified and authorized to care for the child; that the NRP's involvement depends on the RP, not on the court, which ordered the parents to share equally in decision-making!

At worst, policies that ignore joint legal custody and give total deference to the RP give that parent the power to circumvent their ex's rights, by refusing to give the required permission slips. It makes you feel powerless and infuriated to have joint legal custody and to be told by a teacher, principal, daycare director or doctor, "Regardless what rights the court says you have, we view your ex as the custodial parent, so we're doing whatever she says. And she says you can't enter the school (or you can't pick up your child; or you can't view his records; or you can't have his teeth cleaned...) If you think what she's telling us is wrong, take her back to court." One wonders what good a NRP's rights are, if no one outside the court honors them and it costs thousands of dollars to go back to court to enforce them!

As far as enrolling a child in the NRP's neighborhood school, the school should expect the RP's involvement. (They should want to ensure that the NRP isn't enrolling the kid in school without the knowledge or consent of the RP.) But if both parents prefer their child to attend school in the NRP's neighborhood, the school should not overrule them with its own policies that prioritize one parent over the other. If the NRP contributes tax money to his neighborhood school - and especially if a court has given him equal legal responsibility for his child - the school should not be entitled to interfere.

But how far can NRPs be expected to push the envelope? Again, if the RP is reasonable and will give any needed permission slips, it's easiest to just use them. If there's a halfway-decent school in the RP's neighborhood, it's easiest to just send the kid there. But ultimately, changes in both policies and mindsets will require people taking stands. I will applaud any NRP who - like my husband - will say, "Here are my court orders. Here's our state law. I have the same right to pick up my kid without a permission slip as my ex does. If you refuse to let me, you're interfering with my custodial rights and I'm not afraid to take it to court." Or, "My ex and I both want our child to attend this school. I'm a tax-paying resident of this district. I am a full legal guardian of my child - just like my ex. You have no more right to refuse admission than my ex's neighborhood school does. We'll take you to court if we have to."

FTR, I am not judging others who don't take stands. It's expensive, time-consuming and upsetting. It's not for everyone. After my husband got custody, we could not justify continuing to pursue all the mistreatment by schools and doctors. I'm just saying that family courts seem to be slowly changing toward a more egalitarian approach to divorced parenting. The way institutions will catch up is through lawsuits that enforce what's going on in the courts.

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#2 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 12:07 AM
 
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we have it dealt with it from a parental standpoint yet (ds is only 2, and xh and i are in different states) but i know the daycare i worked at previously (and i think the one im at now) have specifically said that they will not prevent a parent from taking a child unless the have a copy of the *whatever* (custody order, restraining order, etc) stating otherwise

i think its crazy that i would have to give xh permission to pick ds up from school or something. he is his father, and has a right to see him.

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#3 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 12:23 AM
 
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Wow -- I'm so sorry you and your DH have had to deal with such stupidity (and sexism).

We've had our share of problems, but picking them up at school has never been one of them. In fact, DH added me to the list at the kids' school even before we were married, and no one batted an eye.

We have, however, had issues with doctors. Those were maddening. We wanted to get DSS tested for dyslexia (which he, like his father, has). We needed a referral. The ped we went to quickly assessed, in front of the kids: "You're the dad. But you're not the mom." Um, yes. Then gives us a speech about children of divorce. Um, we're here for an eye exam to refer him for a test of a genetic disorder his father has.

Then, the psychologist who tests for dyslexia refused to do it without the mom's permission (DH has joint legal, and either one can make medical decisions). We had the mother call her, and then the psychologist fussed at us on behalf of the mom, saying we'd have to pay for the whole thing and the mom didn't want the testing, but would give us permission only if we paid every cent (note: the testing would have been free where she lives, but she was refusing, so our only option was this very expensive testing locally). We were planning to pay upfront anyway and get reimbursed for half by the mom, so it was not the psych's concern, but she took the time to tell us mom shouldn't have to pay anything. Legally, the mother would have to split it with us like we do every medical cost she incurs, but at this point we gave up completely. We weren't going to demand that she take our money. We just gave up, and DSS had years of major frustrations in reading, as no one diagnosed and treated his dyslexia.

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#4 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 12:51 PM
 
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It's driven by fear of lawsuits, plain and simple.
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#5 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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Strangely, my husband was able to enroll my stepdaughter in Milwaukee Public Schools a few years ago (it was done as a precaution, to reserve her spot in the neigborhood school, because of some issues with her potential kindergarten out in her mom's city--those issues got resolved and she was promptly unenrolled) WITHOUT any documentation other than a birth certificate, immunization records, and proof of residency (his, not his daughter's).

Even though the court order says SD will attend the school in her mother's district. They have joint legal custody, shared placement, with primary placement to Mom and about 37% placement to Dad, between weekends, some holidays, and summer weekdays. So they are supposed to both agree on education, with ties going to the "status quo" if possible (meaning, if Mom wants to switch schools and Dad doesn't, the current school remains for now), to Mom if not possible (i.e. if SD could no longer attend her neighborhood school and Mom and Dad disagreed on where to send her, Mom's choice would win, since she has primary placement), until they get in front of a mediator.)

Also: SD's school never requested the custody order, either--I do think there is an assumption in many places that Mom is the proper person to be doing school enrollment (apparently not in Milwaukee--but in many places).

They are pretty random about sending us separate correspondence--any overdue fees for aftercare come right to us, but we'll get report cards in the mail weeks later (after a confused "why did you sign and return Mom's copy?" from the teacher--well, because it came in SD's backpack and it didn't say "Mom's copy").

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#6 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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Short and simple - my ex requires permission from me to get the kids from school because it's during MY parenting time. He has access EOW (Friday at 6 till Sunday at 6). The rest of the time, is mine - full stop. Therefore, if he would like access to them during that time, he requires MY permission.

FTR, this was/is completely agreed upon by my ex. We have joint legal custody, with me having physical/residential. I have day to day decision making power, but we need to attempt to agree on larger issues re:health,schooling,etc.

Also, the school has a copy of our court order on file, and we are far from being the only couple in this situation, at this particular school. On the other hand, if my kids were with their father on HIS weekend, and I attempted to remove them from where ever they were without HIS permission, I would be in the wrong - as it is HIS parenting time.

I'm not sure how that's so difficult, or even contentious.

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#7 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 03:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by violet_ View Post
(DH has joint legal, and either one can make medical decisions).
My understanding, straight from our attorney, is that joint legal means the parents need to agree, or work together on health, education, etc.

Neither one can arbitrarily make decisions about a course of action for the kids without consulting the other.

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#8 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 04:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ceinwen View Post
Short and simple - my ex requires permission from me to get the kids from school because it's during MY parenting time. He has access EOW (Friday at 6 till Sunday at 6). The rest of the time, is mine - full stop. Therefore, if he would like access to them during that time, he requires MY permission.

FTR, this was/is completely agreed upon by my ex. We have joint legal custody, with me having physical/residential. I have day to day decision making power, but we need to attempt to agree on larger issues re:health,schooling,etc.

Also, the school has a copy of our court order on file, and we are far from being the only couple in this situation, at this particular school. On the other hand, if my kids were with their father on HIS weekend, and I attempted to remove them from where ever they were without HIS permission, I would be in the wrong - as it is HIS parenting time.

I'm not sure how that's so difficult, or even contentious.
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.

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#9 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 06:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ceinwen View Post
Neither one can arbitrarily make decisions about a course of action for the kids without consulting the other.
Unfortunately this still happens even with court papers stating the whole 50/50 thing and that the parents are supposed to come to an agreement for all majors.

DH's ex enrolled DSD in a private school this year without his consent and the school never asked his ex to see any papers.

Yet DH would like to enroll DSD in our school next year and the school is giving him a big song and dance about having to change custody and have a notorized paper from his ex giving him permission to do so.

My DH has just as much legal right to parent DSD as his ex does. They shouldn't make the non-custodial jump through hoops the way they do when they have legal rights.

Also... for picking up from school... his ex had to put him down as an okay person to pick up... if she had not DH would not be able to pick up his own daughter. Sometimes things come up, like DSD gets an early dismissal or something like that and it makes more sense/is more convenient for DH to pick up instead of his ex... so there will be times that come up that he picks DSD up on days that are not "officially his".

I just think it's sad that schools have to be as involved in this as they are because of the cases where everyone doesn't do the right thing... but it makes it harder for all of us who are good parents and are just trying to do their best to raise their kid.

Great post Jeannine.

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#10 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 06:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
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.
This, yes I see. My ex does have absolute ability to attend school functions, access records, etc.

I have seen on here though the issue of the NCP being able/not being able to actually pick-up children from school, and I was addressing this part of the issue.

In the very first paragraph of the OP, it states:

"I'm interested in an issue that was raised elsewhere: a non-residential parent being required to get permission slips from the residential parent in order to pick up their child from school or take their child to the doctor; and situations where a child is refused admittance to their non-residential parent's neighborhood school... even when the parents have joint legal custody.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
DH's ex enrolled DSD in a private school this year without his consent and the school never asked his ex to see any papers.

Yet DH would like to enroll DSD in our school next year and the school is giving him a big song and dance about having to change custody and have a notorized paper from his ex giving him permission to do so.

My DH has just as much legal right to parent DSD as his ex does. They shouldn't make the non-custodial jump through hoops the way they do when they have legal rights.

Also... for picking up from school... his ex had to put him down as an okay person to pick up... if she had not DH would not be able to pick up his own daughter. Sometimes things come up, like DSD gets an early dismissal or something like that and it makes more sense/is more convenient for DH to pick up instead of his ex... so there will be times that come up that he picks DSD up on days that are not "officially his".

I just think it's sad that schools have to be as involved in this as they are because of the cases where everyone doesn't do the right thing... but it makes it harder for all of us who are good parents and are just trying to do their best to raise their kid.
Would it not be up to your ex at that point to contest the enrollment in a certain school? I mean, either my ex or I can enroll our kids anywhere we want - but if we disagree, then we have to attend mediation.

I don't think it's sad at all, and strangely enough neither does my ex (I realize he does not speak for all parents, just saying) I think it's safe and appropriate for the schools to get involved. A school is a very neutral territory and should have custody papers on file, to protect the rights of both parents and the child.

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#11 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 06:30 PM
 
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My understanding, straight from our attorney, is that joint legal means the parents need to agree, or work together on health, education, etc.

Neither one can arbitrarily make decisions about a course of action for the kids without consulting the other.
Somehow it doesn't work that way over here. We had to ask the kids to even find out what school she enrolled them in. We are billed for medical, weeks after things happen, including injuries and illness, with no notification. DH is not consulted for things during her time, so we've stopped consulting for things during ours. We asked our lawyer, and he said both sides have to notify the other, but there's no fixed timeline.

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#12 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 06:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Short and simple - my ex requires permission from me to get the kids from school because it's during MY parenting time. He has access EOW (Friday at 6 till Sunday at 6). The rest of the time, is mine - full stop. Therefore, if he would like access to them during that time, he requires MY permission.... if my kids were with their father on HIS weekend, and I attempted to remove them from where ever they were without HIS permission, I would be in the wrong - as it is HIS parenting time.

I'm not sure how that's so difficult, or even contentious.
It doesn't have to be. If you and your ex both feel satisfied with your arrangement, that's great.

Let me clarify, though: I wasn't talking about a non-residential parent trying to pick up the kids from school when he's not supposed to have them. It's pretty standard, now, for NRPs to have the kids at least one weekday every week (often after school 'til bedtime), so they're involved in homework and school-week routines, not just weekend fun.

When a NRP is supposed to have the kids after school, but the school still requires a permission slip from the RP:

#1- It does send the message that the NRP is the lesser parent. Let's say your ex ended his weekend with the kids by dropping them off at a youth-group function at church and you were to pick them up. You'd expect to introduce yourself to the youth-group leader as their mom, then your kids would run up and say, "Hi, Mom!" and you'd head home. How would you feel if the youth group leader said, "Sorry. I will not let your children leave with you. I'll call the police if I have to. At our church, we're accustomed to fathers being in charge of the children and we have nothing in writing from their father saying you're allowed to take them anywhere." You wouldn't feel belittled and infuriated and wonder who this person thought she was, telling you what you can and can't do with your own children? Divorced fathers deal with such attitudes all the time.

#2- It enables RPs who are so inclined to circumvent custody orders. My husband used to have court orders stating he was to have his son Tuesdays and Thursdays starting when school let out. But his ex refused to give permission for him to pick up the child at school. So his son would spend nearly an hour riding the bus to his mom's, she would refuse to let my husband take him for another hour and my husband's weekday parenting time was essentially cut in half. My husband took her back to court. The judge scolded his ex and demanded she authorize my husband to pick up their kid at school, but no new orders were issued, because my husband already had orders for visitation and for unfettered access to the school. After court, the ex still refused to give my husband permission to pick up their kid. My husband told the principal what happened in court. His ex denied it. Craftily, she told the principal "Nothing changed in court - the judge decided not to issue any different orders". The principal told my husband he still couldn't pick up his son, unless his ex changed her mind or the court ordered something new, contradicting his ex. (Even though the existing orders and our state law already contradicted her!) So, my husband took her back to court again and subpoenaed the principal, who testified about the ex refusing to give permission. The judge ordered the principal to treat my husband exactly as the ex was treated, because they have joint custody. So, 2 hearings and several thousand dollars in attorney's fees later, my husband got to start picking up his kid at school and exercising his court-ordered parenting time. Before the end of that school year, his ex moved their son to a new school and started the exact same thing all over again.

Long story, but it can indeed breed contention, when institutions that deal with divorced parents ignore joint custody arrangements because they're too confusing...

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#13 of 37 Old 02-10-2010, 09:54 PM
 
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Let me clarify, though: I wasn't talking about a non-residential parent trying to pick up the kids from school when he's not supposed to have them. It's pretty standard, now, for NRPs to have the kids at least one weekday every week (often after school 'til bedtime), so they're involved in homework and school-week routines, not just weekend fun.

When a NRP is supposed to have the kids after school, but the school still requires a permission slip from the RP:

#1- It does send the message that the NRP is the lesser parent. Let's say your ex ended his weekend with the kids by dropping them off at a youth-group function at church and you were to pick them up. You'd expect to introduce yourself to the youth-group leader as their mom, then your kids would run up and say, "Hi, Mom!" and you'd head home. How would you feel if the youth group leader said, "Sorry. I will not let your children leave with you. I'll call the police if I have to. At our church, we're accustomed to fathers being in charge of the children and we have nothing in writing from their father saying you're allowed to take them anywhere." You wouldn't feel belittled and infuriated and wonder who this person thought she was, telling you what you can and can't do with your own children? Divorced fathers deal with such attitudes all the time.

#2- It enables RPs who are so inclined to circumvent custody orders. My husband used to have court orders stating he was to have his son Tuesdays and Thursdays starting when school let out. But his ex refused to give permission for him to pick up the child at school. So his son would spend nearly an hour riding the bus to his mom's, she would refuse to let my husband take him for another hour and my husband's weekday parenting time was essentially cut in half. My husband took her back to court. The judge scolded his ex and demanded she authorize my husband to pick up their kid at school, but no new orders were issued, because my husband already had orders for visitation and for unfettered access to the school. After court, the ex still refused to give my husband permission to pick up their kid. My husband told the principal what happened in court. His ex denied it. Craftily, she told the principal "Nothing changed in court - the judge decided not to issue any different orders". The principal told my husband he still couldn't pick up his son, unless his ex changed her mind or the court ordered something new, contradicting his ex. (Even though the existing orders and our state law already contradicted her!) So, my husband took her back to court again and subpoenaed the principal, who testified about the ex refusing to give permission. The judge ordered the principal to treat my husband exactly as the ex was treated, because they have joint custody. So, 2 hearings and several thousand dollars in attorney's fees later, my husband got to start picking up his kid at school and exercising his court-ordered parenting time. Before the end of that school year, his ex moved their son to a new school and started the exact same thing all over again.

Long story, but it can indeed breed contention, when institutions that deal with divorced parents ignore joint custody arrangements because they're too confusing...
If the NCP is denied access during their parenting time (be it weekday or otherwise) then that's obstruction and should be treated as such. Requiring a permission slip for that time is ridiculous IMO. If the school has a copy of the court order, that should cover the requirement.

If I went to collect my children from an event my ex left them at, I would fully expect to be challenged as to my authority to be there (and it has happened - ex dropped off dd at a soccer game, I picked up, coach wanted to check with my ex to make sure it was kosher).

Even though it took an undue amount of time and effort, and was extremely unfair to your husband and stepchild, in the end you both ended up with custody, correct? So it seems to me that pursuing these kinds of situations legally can have positive outcomes.

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#14 of 37 Old 02-11-2010, 03:31 AM
 
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It has been my experience that, as long as the school is provided a copy of the order (with the specifics of parenting time highlighted), there is no problem with the NCP picking up the kid(s) from school on his/her parenting time. If he/she chooses to try and get the kids from school on a day that is not his/her parenting time, the school does (and I think rightfully so) require some sort of "permission" slip/notification from the CP. I have known of too many times where an NCP decides to pick up the child on the CP's time w/o informing the CP and then there is an issue when the child is not where s/he should be at the end of the day. The school is, quite rightly, protecting itself.

As for medical decisions/issues... My ex has made medical decisions w/o discussing with me, although I have made a point to (at least attempt to) discuss such issues with him. Our youngest (an athlete) injured a joint, and her physician recommended that she get a follow-up with an ortho. I emailed Dad. He refused to consent, and said that she could simply quit the sport she participates in. I took it to mediation, where he was told that this was not an unreasonable request and would be viewed as medically appropriate. On the flip side, I was shocked to discover when she came home after being with her Dad that he had taken her to the doc for the HPV vaccine. Uuuh, I don't think so. And yes, I ripped the doc's office up one side and down the other for giving her the vax w/o both parents' consent.

These issues really do run both ways.
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#15 of 37 Old 02-11-2010, 03:56 AM
 
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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, doctor, church youth group, to seek to protect children from this. It should be the responsibility of the non-residential-parent to demonstrate (by producing the court order) that they are allowed to take the child (or access records, or make medical decisions etc.) 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.

I'm confused about the OP, did the school say your dh needed permission from his ex even when presented with court papers? Because at that point he needs to take legal action against the school because they are in violation of the law. I don't however think its reasonable to expect the school to allow unfettered access though without proof of legal rights.

Also JSMA, I'm also wondering if your local school district is highly desirable, then maybe the reason they won't let your dh enroll dsd is because the school doesn't have space. For example we have the right to enroll dd in the school district where my husband works, but the spots go to children who reside in the district first and then only when spaces are left over could my dd enroll. I believe the same is true of children enrolling in the district of nrp's. Because the child her(or him)self doesn't live in the district, they can be denied entrance when there is not enough space.

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#16 of 37 Old 02-11-2010, 04:11 AM
 
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Well I know nothing about anything of this issue. But I do remember the fear and anguish when my coworker's ex tried to pick up her son at school. And the school let him.

Fortunately before leaving town he went back to his place and the alert had already gone out so they got the kid back.

I imagine a few of these situations was enough to get the schools super restricted.

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#17 of 37 Old 02-11-2010, 01:50 PM
 
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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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#18 of 37 Old 02-11-2010, 05:28 PM
 
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I have sole custody, and had to provide court orders so the school would be able to refuse to release the kids to their father. I find it disgusting that some parents take advantage of a system that is in place to protect kids, and while I can sympathize with parents who deserve to be involved having these struggles, those restrictions are in place to protect kids in situations like my family's.

A few years ago, if my mentally unstable ex picked the kids up from school, I'd have been praying it was just kidnapping. Luckily, the school knows to call 9-1-1 in the event that he shows up (which by now I've realized is extremely unlikely to occur) He has the right to access to the kids report cards, but I don't know whether or not he's exercised that. He doesn't respond to emails when I inform him of decisions that need to be made about the kids.

I had no issues when I added the kids' step-dad as a person who could pick up the kids. I updated the information at the office, and introduced him to the kids' teachers at their pick-up doors after school. My mom and him are both familiar faces, and haven't had issues picking the kids up.

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#19 of 37 Old 02-11-2010, 07:07 PM
 
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Do doctor's offices routinely ask people, "are you divorced? is there a parenting agreement in place?"
My kids' doctor at their Dad's knows that we are divorced, that there is a parenting plan in place, that I am CP AND that we have joint legal. And yes, they know what that means.

Quite frankly, I expect the same consideration from my ex that I provide him.
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#20 of 37 Old 02-11-2010, 07:53 PM
 
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My kids' doctor at their Dad's knows that we are divorced, that there is a parenting plan in place, that I am CP AND that we have joint legal. And yes, they know what that means.

Quite frankly, I expect the same consideration from my ex that I provide him.
Absolutely. I agree both parents deserve respect and consideration from each other. I'm glad in my stepdaughter's situation, her parents are in general agreement about her major life decisions so it doesn't really matter if the doctor/school/etc. asks if something is OK with both. They discuss it beforehand and proceed from there.

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?)

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.)

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#21 of 37 Old 02-11-2010, 10:06 PM
 
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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.
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#22 of 37 Old 02-11-2010, 11:08 PM
 
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...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.

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#23 of 37 Old 02-12-2010, 02:33 AM
 
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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 . . . ).
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#24 of 37 Old 02-13-2010, 10:43 PM
 
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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.

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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.
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#25 of 37 Old 02-14-2010, 12:18 PM
 
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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.

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#26 of 37 Old 02-15-2010, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

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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.

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#27 of 37 Old 02-15-2010, 10:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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...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.

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#28 of 37 Old 02-16-2010, 02:21 AM
 
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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.
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#29 of 37 Old 02-16-2010, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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#30 of 37 Old 02-16-2010, 12:50 PM
 
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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.

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