Contacting non-custodial parent

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Bella2010, Oct 2, 2010.

  1. Bella2010

    Bella2010 Habitué

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    Oct 2, 2010

    First off, let me say I hope and pray this thread concerning phone usage to contact parents doesn't incite the drama my last thread did. :(

    I've been having behavior problems with a kid - smart a$$ comments, back talking, teasing my spec. ed kids :mad:, etc. I've left messages for his mom to call me. I summarize the issues we're having when I leave the voice mails. So far, we haven't talked yet.

    So, on open house his stepmom and dad were enrolling their daughter, and they stopped by my room. They told me the kid was living with them, but he went back to his mom over the summer. I think he's been bounced back and forth, but I'm not sure. Anyway, they told me to call them with any behavior problems.

    I looked at his demographic information, and it lists his mom as the custodial parent. I assume he sees his dad on the weekends? It's strange, though, that his stepmom and dad's e-mail is listed in the demographic information.

    I'm not saying that she's not talking to the kid about the behavior just because she's not calling me back. She very well might be. I'm thinking it would pi** her off if I called her ex-husband since she's the custodial parent. I don't want to to look like, "Well, I'm not getting anywhere with you, so I'm trying the "other" parent." I don't want that to happen; however, this kid's heading downhill.

    Maybe I should have called both of them from the beginning? That way it wouldn't look like the "I'm calling the other parent" scenario I mentioned above that I hoped to avoid. IDK??????

    Thoughts?

    TIA,

    Beth
     
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  3. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Oct 2, 2010

    Just because she is listed on the enrollment form as the custodial parent, doesn't mean that she is. Check for court papers. If there is not any on file, call the dad. And even if there is some on file, chances are still good you can call the dad. You might even call with a message like "Ms. M, I have left several messages. I am not sure that this is the correct number. If you don't call me back today, I will be calling the 405-XXX-XXXC number that was shared with me at open house." If she is getting your messages and ignoring you, she will return your call just to keep you from calling the ex.
     
  4. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Oct 2, 2010

    I do like mrachelle's ideas but I would inform the principal of your plans before you do it just in case there is any backlash.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Oct 2, 2010

    Without a court order specifically forbidding contact with, or sending information to the non-custodial parent, you cannot legally withhold information from him. The custodial parent cannot tell you not to contact the non-custodial parent. He has as much right to be a part of his child's education as she does. Period.

    If mom's not responding, call dad. If you think there might be drama, tell your P., but just as a fyi. You do not need to ask for permission.

    While there might be people who will argue various ways, it boils down to one simple fact: it's the law. Both parents, regardless of marital status, have the right to information about their child's education. If my ex-husband, who has not seen, or had any contact with his children for 8 years, walked into their school and asked for information about them, the school could not legally deny him, and there's nothing I could do to stop it. I don't like it. It's not good for the kids, but it's the law.
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 2, 2010

    Ask the mom if the father has rights. Ask for the custody papers so they can be placed in the child's permanent educational file.
     
  7. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Oct 3, 2010

    Non-custodial doesn't mean "no longer a parent" - it just means the other parent has the children most of the time.

    The school needs a copy of the custody agreement in the child's permanent file. If mom is the custodial parent, it is her responsibility to provide that, although the dad most likely has a copy as well and his copy will be just as valid as hers.

    As was pointed out above, you cannot legally deny information to either parent unless the custody papers expressly forbid any contact with the non-custodial parent and that is going to be very rare. More often, it is the custody parent denying information to the other as one way of "getting back" at them for other divorce issues. Too often, the kids are used as pawns as a away of striking out at the now ex-spouse.

    Your best policy would be to always contact both parents from the start. If one parent claims the other doesn't have custody and tells the school NOT to send any information, you explain that, unless (s)he can provide the court order expressly forbidding contact with the other parent, the school has a legal obligation to keep both parents informed of a child's progress and/or actions at school.
     
  8. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Oct 3, 2010

    It's the other way around. Provide everything to both parents UNLESS one party can prove the other parent doesn't have rights. Termination of Parental rights (TPR, in legal lingo), is the family court "death sentence". It is not something that's taken lightly and doesn't happen very often. Like Cerek said, "non-custodial" only means that the child live primarily with the other parent. It does NOT mean that the parent gave up his rights.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I'm pretty sure that the law doesn't take "pi$$ed off the mom" as a reason for non-compliance.

    Very often moms get the custody. That doesn't mean that there's any reason the dads don't or can't or shouldn't have the right to be part of their kids' lives.
     
  10. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I have a parent that has custody. They came to open house, but since it was the little one's night with mom...mom and the child showed up also. The father and stepmother realized that things were going south fast, so they left. The mother asked to see the child's enrollment form. She destroyed it. She was angry because the stepmother had filled it out. She has limited contact with her children and can only be with them with a supervising adult (the night of open house, it was her parents.) I wasn't sure how to handle it, but I called the stepmother and explained that had allowed the mother to get the enrollment form. The stepmother was wonderful about it. She explained that they had custody and that the court only allowed visitation after they approached the judge because of the kids. She encouraged me to send home double copies of notes and she would get them to mom. She explained that she was a mother and couldn't stand it if her ex didn't allow her to have input on her children with him. Her attitude was wonderful. I have callled the father over small issues, but if I had to call the mother, I would.

    By the way, the court order states that the school communicates with the father, but if the mother contacts us...we have to respond. The judge took everything into account or maybe the father's lawyer. It was the clearest court order I have read.
     
  11. bros

    bros Phenom

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    You should see how complicated the orders get when relating to special education. A grandparent on an advocacy board I go to is having a... fun time with that. Her grandson lives with paternal grandparents, but she makes the educational decisions
     
  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    One of my students lives with a grandparent--parents are not in the picture--but I need to track down custodial and access information.
     
  13. purplecrazy21

    purplecrazy21 Comrade

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    Oct 9, 2010

    Custody does not automatically go to moms these days. The courts generally do what they view as in the best interest of the child and that does not always mean that the moms become the custodial parent now. That is an old stereotype.
    As others said, custodial parent does not mean not a parent anymore. The child's father has just as much right to receive information about his child as the mother does.
    You need to ask the father for a copy of the custody agreement and ask him what the custody order states about decision making or legal custody. He and the mother very likely have joint decision making, which means that they both have educational decision making rights. Regardless, you can call either one of them if the child is having problems at school. If you have tried calling mom and got no response, it is time to call dad.
    The worst thing you can do is put yourself in the middle of their custody issues. That could get you and the school in trouble if it is viewed that you are taking sides with on or the other parent. You need to treat both parents as if you know nothing about their custody problems and just abide by what the custody agreement says regarding their decision making and what days each of them pick the child up from school.
     
  14. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Oct 9, 2010

    It is not an old stereotype; I know first-hand that mothers are still considered the "better parent" by default in the court systems unless the father can prove some egregious wrong-doing or endangerment on her part. Just because she is unfaithful in the marriage doesn't make her a bad mother. Other examples my lawyer cited were mothers that smoked marijuana and one that worked as an exotic dancer. Neither of these conditions was considered "dangerous" enough by the courts to cost them custody.

    Most custody agreements address primary guardianship, visitation and holiday schedules, etc. but most do NOT specifically address "decision making". Again, non-custodial does NOT mean "no longer a parent". Only in cases of sole custody where the other parent is either not in the picture or can only have supervised visitation is it likely the custody papers will also address decision making for the children.

    As a teacher, you should automatically contact BOTH parents regarding ANY issue that comes up, until such time the mother can PROVE the father has been denied access to that information by the courts (not by her).
     
  15. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Oct 9, 2010

    This is very true. As a single mom, I have done my research as to what the laws are. For example, in AZ I have custody according to AZ state laws even though I have not gone to court. It is because of the bonding why mother's are favored. If a parent (mom or dad) has shelter and is not abusive or neglectful they get custody.
     
  16. purplecrazy21

    purplecrazy21 Comrade

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    Well, your personal experience must be different and the laws for your state are different. In Colorado, parents who were married and then divorced are both favored equally in terms of custody. In cases where parents were not married, the mother has default custody until the father establishes paternity and files for custody arrangements with the courts. Then the father will most likely receive some form of custody, which can often be as much as 50% custody. Colorado courts award custody based on the best interest of the child not based on the fact that mom gave birth to the child so therefore must be the "better" parent. Custody has nothing to do with the bonding of the mother and the child. Neither parent is viewed as superior to the other.

    The judges here will flat out say that they don't care one iota for either parent. Their only concern is what will be best for the child in terms of making custody decisions.

    As far as decision making goes, it is also known on custody documentation as legal custody and it is very definitely addressed in custody documentation in Colorado and other states. Here it is called decision making. One parent or the other will be awarded decision making or legal custody (the ability to make educational or medical decisions), In CO the parents usually end up with joint decision making which means they are both responsible for educational and medical decisions and must communicate with each other to agree on decisions that need to be made.

    Even in cases where one parent has sole legal custody, the other parent still has the right under FERPA to access their child's educational information. The only thing they can't do is change information or make decisions regarding that information.

    I've been down this road too as I married into a blended family. I guess all of our experiences were just different and in my state, the mother being the better parent is an old, obsolete stereotype. Times have changed here. :D

    At any rate, the OP still needs to clarify dad's rights with dad and request a copy of the custody documentation for the child's file. They just need to know that it is okay to contact dad about the behavior of his child because it is most likely that mom and dad have joint decision making or joint legal custody and are both entitled to make those decisions.
     
  17. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Oct 10, 2010

    I have three children in my class that are in the custody of their fathers and one in the custody of the mother. Over the years, I have had probably 20-25 fathers that had custody of their children. They --my sterotyping--are the best parents to go with me on field trips and sponsor class parties.
     
  18. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    It isn't just my personal experience. Even when courts supposedly base custody on "the best interests of the child", custody still goes to the mother an overwhelming majority of the time.

    Statistics are very hard to find (I know because I've been looking) but I did find one article that addressed this: Child Custody Statistics.

    According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), nearly 75 percent of all child custody awards are made to the mother. Only about 10 percent of child custody awards are made to fathers. The rest of the child custody awards involve some sort of joint custody arrangement.

    The NCHS is responsible for tracking divorce and custody statistics. It acknowledges that laws in many states have changed to "best interest of the child", but the actual awarding of custody still clearly favors the mother.
     
  19. stevesgirl

    stevesgirl Companion

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    Oct 10, 2010

    In my state there is physical custody (where the child will live) and legal custody (who makes decisions for the child). My ex-husband and I share legal custody - we make joint decisions for our children and attend all school meetings together - and I believe that, unless there is some issue with the safety of the child, that is how most divorced parents share legal custody. I have physical custody, which means my children live with me and then have visits with their dad. If the parents of your student share legal custody, which is usually the case, the dad has a legal right to be involved in every aspect of the student's life. You can call either one with school issues.
     
  20. purplecrazy21

    purplecrazy21 Comrade

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    Oct 10, 2010

    I'm a little leary of that site because it is difficult to determine their credibility. The fact may be true though.

    I can still see the shifting in views though. Where I live, every divorced couple I know shares joint legal and physical custody of their children. Custody has been determined because it is viewed that it is in the child's best interest to have equal access to both parents. If primary custody has to be given, it is given to the parent that is most able to facilitate the ongoing relationship with the child and the other parent. I saw 50/50 custody awarded even in a case where there was a protective order involved. (but both of these parents are excellent parents and the order had nothing to do with the kids)

    Anyway, we'll probably have to just agree to disagree. I don't want to hijack the OP's thread anymore.
     

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