When a couple begins the divorce process, there are many people and organizations that must be notified about the change in marital status for legal and financial reasons. However, some parents may feel hesitate about releasing that personal information and may wonder if it necessary to notify their child’s school. While it may seem wise for parents to hold back information in an effort to protect their children’s privacy, educators who know what is going on with the children at home are better equipped to support them in the classroom. Listed below are reasons why educators should know about a divorce and tips on communication.
Why Should Teachers Know?
In a study conducted by global leadership training company, VitalSmarts, 94 percent of the teachers polled said they felt it was important for parents to let them know about a divorce or separation. However, only 23 percent of the polled parents actually shared this information with their children’s educators. Parents should keep educators informed so that they can monitor and help the child with their education.
The study also identified five major life changes as potential barriers to learning:
- Death in the family
- Major illness
- Mood changes
- Possible drug use
- Divorce and other marital problems
These life-altering disruptions can impact a child’s behavior and performance in school. Knowing about a child’s major life transitions sooner rather than later enables teachers and counselors to better serve their students. Knowing the entire picture of what a student may be going through at home helps educators connect the dots and address attendance issues, behavioral problems, and affected grades quickly and effectively.
How Should I Inform the School About the Divorce?
Parents should not wait until the divorce is finalized to tell the school; it is better to notify the school as soon as possible. It is not necessary to wait until the final divorce decree is issued. Children can be affected by turmoil in any form, such as verbal and physical altercations, a parent moving out, or a divorce. Teachers who know more about what is going on at home may approach in-school issues with more compassion and understanding.
Information about home issues may be shared with other staff at the school. From administrators and counselors to nurses and teachers, ideally, the entire school staff will work together as a cohesive unit to help every student. It is important to know that information relayed to a teacher or counselor will likely be shared with all school employees who may interact with the child. This helps everyone stay on the same page and best support the student. At the same time, the school also has a duty to keep this information confidential.
It is important to keep personal details private. Teachers do not need to know why the marriage ended or who is to blame. It is possible to inform that school while remaining discreet. Simply state the facts, and keep the school informed about ongoing changes.
A system should be created to help both parents to be engaged in the child’s education. Parent engagement is when both parents and teachers work together to help children reach their educational potential. Among many households, one parent takes over the school duties while the other may handle the sports or another facet of the child’s life. Children benefit when both parents are actively involved in their studies. This may seem a bit more challenging after divorce when children transition between two separate households, but it can and should be done.
Tips for Coparenting School-Age Children
Some helpful tips for coparenting are listed below.
Notify the School
Notify the school in writing about major changes at home, including a separation or divorce. Direct the correspondence to the principal, counselor, and any teachers the student regularly interacts with. Share any updated contact information, such as a name, address, or phone number.
Share Parenting Schedules
Any schedule changes should be shared with the school as well. Some couples with especially contentious divorces where one parent does not share child custody may need to provide a copy of the parenting plan. The school needs to know who is legally permitted to take the child out of school for any reason.
Families have many technological tools to help with coparenting and parenting time. Virtual meetings and classrooms and emails help parents, teachers, and school counselors communicate quickly and efficiently about a child’s progress. All of these tools are ideal for coparents who do not live together but want to be equally informed and involved with their child’s education.
Request Copies of Documents
When parents share legal and/or physical custody, it is helpful to ask the school to send school newsletters, report cards, and other information to both of them. This way, parents are informed even if the child is staying with the other parent. Most schools store most or all of this information in online portals, making it easier for coparents to access it at any time.
Keep Communication Open
In New Jersey, divorce matters are managed with the children’s best interests in mind. Coparents should do their best to communicate productively and positively regarding the child’s education. If something comes up at school, discuss how to best handle it together before approaching the child. This type of ongoing open dialogue is not going to work for every set of coparents. If a parent shuts down or stops communicating about school or anything affecting the children, it may be time to contact a lawyer for assistance.
For children going through a tough time at home, school can be a positive distraction. It is a place to leave the conflict at home challenge themselves academically, connect with peers, and explore their passions through sports and other after-school extracurricular activities. Regardless of what is going on between parents, they should work together to make sure their child has proper education. By supporting teachers and administrators, parents set the tone that education is important.
Should I Speak to a Lawyer?
Even the most agreeable ex-spouses can hit roadblocks when making decisions regarding their children. It is common for coparents to have different ideas about what is best for their children. For that reason, every parent involved in a coparenting relationship should enlist the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer.
A lawyer’s job is to look at the overall picture, which may mean mediation and litigation. Working with a divorce lawyer does not mean that the divorce will become contentious. Legal representation can help reduce conflict and encourage a smoother divorce process.
Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Parents Navigate Challenging Custody and Support Issues
The Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. know how challenging it can be to coparent after a divorce. Through years of experience resolving tough divorce disputes, our team has developed the necessary skills to resolve your divorce case. We can make sure you have an effective parenting plan so that your child receives the education that they need. Call us at 908-575-9777 or complete our online form for an initial consultation and more information about your case. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.