Considerations for parents divorcing and asking questions about teachers and schools

While there can be a seemingly infinite number of challenges facing divorcing parents with school-aged children, properly managing expectations and communication with the children, their teachers, and school administrators, can help prevent problems and direct attention to where it is needed.

Parents going through divorce face many challenges, especially with regard to the best interests of their children. The standing orders issued in family court are useful in guarding against the children being dragged into the details of divorce. As parents observe their children, they may be on their best behavior or acting out for attention. Despite attention paid to the children, once they leave the house to go to school, they face different challenges. Most schools and teachers are attentive to, and supportive of the needs of students whose parents are divorcing, or are recently divorced. Co-parenting can be a challenge and might require adjustment by both parents and their children. Even the toughest and most resilient children can experience difficulties in school and some may act out. Being aware and monitoring children's school performance is important and may involve increased communication with teachers and school administrators.

The following is a list of potential questions and conversation topics to help parents work with teachers and schools in furtherance of the best interests of their children.

1. What counseling initiatives does the school use to support children whose parents are divorcing?

Many guidance counselors are well-trained in talking with students who may be experiencing anxiety over divorce. Some students may report feeling pressure at home to be positive and honest about their feelings. Sometimes eldest siblings feel pressure to "keep to together," for example, and may be likely to "lose it" at school. Parents are encouraged to talk to the school counselors and ask any of the questions that may come to mind.

2. Are there policies and procedures for pick-up and drop-off of students, of which parents should be aware?

Especially when a divorce is newly filed or co-parenting is something with which parents are still adjusting, the pick-up and drop-off lines can be stressful. Depending on your situation, you may be new to the established customs and procedures required of parents. The schools are used to people being unfamiliar with what may be expected and they should be happy to offer advice.

3. Will the teachers and administrators communicate with one or both parents if there are concerns, or there is information to share regarding the children?

In many divorces, issues of custody and visitation with children are easily settled when both parents are involved with matters involving the school. What happens however, if there are family violence issues? What happens if one parent has a protective order issued against the other? Schools may not be up to date on your divorce and may not communicate as you desire, but remember they are only trying to do their job to best protect their students.

4. Are there any noteworthy changes in my child's grades or performance in school?

Under pressure, some students may show signs of struggling with their grades and participation at school, both in class and when socializing with their peers. Others may withdraw from others and notably increase their attention on studies and grades. If your child seems to become a perfectionist out of nowhere, there may be cause to pay closer attention and increase the dialogue with the school counselor.

5. Who, if anyone, would be watching for signs of bullying or different attention paid to my child by others at school?

Bullying in school is a scary thought for all parents. While most of us would worry first about our child being bullied, sometimes it is the other way around and our child is the one bullying others. Even the best children can act out in surprising ways under the perfect storm of stress. How does the school address children's interactions with other students and their teachers?

6. Are there groups of peer facilitators with whom my child may join, so they can feel safe talking to their peers about what they may be experiencing?

While as parents, we often expect other adults to guide and counsel children, sometimes the other children are the best ones for the job. Peer facilitators, students who may be leaders among their peers, may be looked at by fellow students as trustworthy, nonjudgmental and more likely to keep certain thoughts confidential. While this can be a positive experience, it is wise to ask the school how peer facilitators are instructed, particularly when it comes to information that adults need to know.

7. If applicable, how does the school address faith-based issues in connection with a divorce?

In private and parochial schools, a student's spiritual health and well-being can be a focus. This may be a particularly sensitive issue that parents choose to address with the school, especially if the parents do not share similar faith or spiritual expectations.

While there can be a seemingly infinite number of challenges facing divorcing parents with school-aged children, properly managing expectations and communication with the children, their teachers, and school administrators, can help prevent problems and direct attention to where it is needed.

Dallas, Collin and Denton County Board Certified divorce and family law attorney, Mark Scroggins, along with their team at Scroggins Family Law represent clients in a variety of divorce and family law matters including those related to teachers and schools.


Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Why Choose Board Certified?

At Scroggins Family Law, our Dallas, Collin and Denton County divorce attorneys have more than over 24 years of collective experience with family law cases. When you retain our firm, you can trust that your case is in the hands of a highly skilled, dedicated professional. we understand the unique challenges of a high value divorce case, and more importantly, have the knowledge and experience you need on your side. Call us today, (214) 469-3100, to learn more about Texas divorce and family law.

Connect with Scroggins Family Law, on social media where the firm shares a library of resources and information about divorce and family law: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +. Avvo.com reviews for Mark Scroggins.

Considering divorce? Get started today with an initial consultation.