Staying Involved with Your Child's School as a Non-Custodial Parent

In most cases, family law lawyers in Pasadena will tell you that non-custodial parents have the same rights as custodial parents in regards to their child's education. Unless there is a court order to the contrary, a non-custodial parent is allowed to participate in parent teacher conferences and school activities. He or she is also entitled to copies of documents relating to a child's education, including test scores, report cards, and progress reports. However, many schools will assume that communication should take place with the custodial parent. If you want to make alternative arrangements, you will need to speak to a school administrator directly. School officials are understanding of the many different home situations their students are dealing with, but they won't know about your divorce unless you make an effort to keep the lines of communication open.

According to the American School Counselor Association, some schools have policies saying that a custodial parent will be notified as a courtesy if the non-custodial parent has been contacted regarding a child's performance at school. Depending upon the circumstances surrounding your divorce, this may be an issue you wish to discuss with your child's teachers.

For most married couples, one parent takes the role as the dominant authority figure when it comes to communicating with teachers and making decisions regarding a child's education. Unfortunately, this dynamic doesn't work well after a divorce. Studies have shown than children with divorced parents benefit from having both their mother and father involved in their education. However, as a non-custodial parent, you must realize that staying involved will require more of a conscious effort on your part.

If you have remarried after your divorce, you may be wondering what rights a stepparent has in regards to a child's education records. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is the federal statue that governs access to a child's education records. This law defines a parent as "a natural parent, a guardian or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian." A stepparent is considered to have the same rights as a natural parent in regards to educational records if he or she is present in the child's home on a regular basis. If you are the non-custodial parent, therefore, your new spouse's rights will be limited under FERPA.