GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – Back to school time is always a challenge, but it is particularly so when you are going through a divorce. One of the most stressful is trying to figure out how involved your soon-to-be ex can and should be involved in the education of the children if you have physical custody. The courts are advocates for both parents being involved in the lives of children of divorce. Unless their is an overwhelming reason, such as sexual abuse, domestic abuse or severe drug usage the court is reluctant to end the rights of a parent to be a parent. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law that gives parents protections in regard to their children’s educational records. Educational records refers to transcripts, report cards, schedules, disciplinary actions and information regarding family and contacts.
Under this law, any parent has the right to receive copies, or to review in person, their child’s educational records no matter which parent has physical custody. It does not apply to normal school notices such as school picture notifications and school lunch menu’s and schedules and therefore they do not need to provide these to a parent that does not have physical custody.
In the case of a parent who has limited access to their child, by court order or other legal documentation the custodial parent must provide proof to the school that such an order exisists, usually a copy of the order is sufficient. Schools do require identification of anyone requesting the school records of your child so it is vital that if there is limited or no contact ordered through the court they are provided with the information and proof so that they can protect your child.
The Michigan Legislature also has a law that provides noncustodial parents with rights to information regarding their child’s educational records. It reads as follows:
722.30 Access to records or information by noncustodial parent.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a parent shall not be denied access to records or information concerning his or her child because the parent is not the child’s custodial parent, unless the parent is prohibited from having access to the records or information by a protective order. As used in this section, “records or information” includes, but is not limited to, medical, dental, and school records, day care provider’s records, and notification of meetings regarding the child’s education.
In most circumstances, both parents are able to co-parent and be involved in the education of their children. Even if you find it impossible to attend conferences and school functions together you are both able to attend separately unless, of course, there is a protective document in place, but showing support for your children’s other parent by attending together is a gift to your children.