The dissolution of a family through divorce is always a trying matter for those involved. One of the most stressful parts of the process is when parents end up fighting over child custody matters. Parents seeking custody of their children should not overlook how important being involved in their children’s educations can be in custody disputes.
Best Interests of the Child
In Pennsylvania, the court determines child custody according to the best interests of the child. The law directs judges to consider 16 factors to help assess the child’s best interests. Two of the factors the court weighs are “which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child” and “the parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child.”
Participating in School Activities
One of the best ways for a parent to demonstrate how highly he or she values the parent-child relationship is to be active in the child’s educational activities. For example, parents who frequently pick up or drop children off from school, take the time to talk to teachers — both during parent-teacher conferences and in more casual settings — have lunch with their children, volunteer to chaperone field trips and help in the classroom stand a better chance of showing the court how involved they are as parents.
Additionally, teachers often testify in custody proceedings about each parent’s level of involvement in a child’s life. The more visible a parent is to a teacher, the more likely the teacher’s testimony will support the parent’s claim that he or she is the one who performs more of the “parental duties” for the child.
Keep in Contact
One of the problems that parents encounter after they separate is that the school only communicates with the parent who has temporary custody of the child, cutting the flow of information off from the other parent. This could lead to missed opportunities for the parent to be a part of the child’s school activities or even make the parent unaware of issues a child is having at school. Parents who have separated should ensure that the school and the child’s teachers have contact information for both parents and know to inform both parents of any information pertaining to the child.
Consult an Attorney
If you are considering divorce and are wondering about child custody issues, speak with an experienced child custody lawyer who can discuss your situation with you and advise you of your options.