By Greenville Divorce Lawyer

John DeVore Compton, III

When it comes to divorce, equal access to children(s) school (visits, records, pickup, parent-teach conferences) should all be worked out in advance of a final hearing, if not beforehand. In South Carolina, divorcing spouses with children are generally required to submit a “Parenting Plan” at the outset of the litigation – usually at a Temporary Hearing – which proposes the intent of the parties regarding these and other issues pending a final hearing. I will dispense with the other issues covered by that process and focus on co-parenting school aged children specifically. Parenting Plans in general are covered here:
Parenting plans are not required in every state. However, not only is it in the best interests of children that the issues of custody and visitation be dealt with amicably, the issues of school access should be worked out in detail also. Good advocacy by attorney would include working with opposing counsel as soon as possible to settle these matters.
Joint custody historical was disfavored by Family Courts. This bias has shifted, and now Joint Custody in somewhat routinely Ordered – barring any manifest unfitness of one of the parties. Joint Custody can be crafted in many ways, and with varying visitation periods. The simplest form is true joint custody with both parties having access to the children half of the time. Usually (in SC) there is a primary custodian, and a secondary custodian. With this arrangement divorcing spouses usually rotate weekends, split holiday time, arrange for father’s and mother’s day visitation, birthdays, and visitation over the summer.
During the school year, a Joint Custody Order should suffice when presented to School officials, to cover School Visits, access to records, picking up children, and being part of parent teacher conferences. Sometimes, though, a bitter spouse (who is the primary custodian) will try to limit this access, which implicitly violates the court Order.
This is why it is critical that theses matters be spelled out with specificity in a Settlement Agreement (attached to the Final Order), the Parenting Plan, or set out in the Order per se.
It is patently obvious that co-parenting in this area is in the best interests of the children. Bickering among parents about education, rather than working together about school matters is misguided, petty, and does not foster the best environment for childrens’ growth, sense of security, and maturation.

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