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What should parents know about child custody, Tennessee law, and the school year?

Parents who are going through a divorce must come up with a plan for how they will share parenting time. These discussions cover many different issues that can include who gets the children for holidays, who claims them for a tax credit, who pays for health insurance, and who makes choices about their education. There are times when the parents and their children are not the only ones that play a role in these arrangements. Another key player is often the child’s school.

How do school districts in Tennessee handle child custody arrangements?

The Tennessee State Board of Education notes that it will presume the parent who enrolls the child as a student within the school is the child’s custodial parent. This is the parent the school will hold responsible for the child’s education and wellbeing. However, the State Board also notes that it will presume there are no restrictions present regarding the information it can share with the non-custodial parent regarding the child’s progress and activities with the school. This includes standardized test scores, copies of report cards, school attendance records, class schedules, and names of teachers. A parent who wishes to change this presumption can do so by sharing court documents that outline differently as the State Board will honor any court-imposed restrictions.

The State Board explains that school officials only allow for the change of physical custody of students at school if the person provides a valid court order from a Tennessee court or has reasonable advance notice of their intent to take custody. This is in line with Tennessee state law.

What about the other details?

The end of summer is a busy time of year and parents are wise to have a plan in place to tackle the obligations that come with heading back to school. These can include:

  • School registration. Getting back to school takes more than just showing up the first day. Parents also need to enroll their children and pay school fees.
  • School supplies. Schools generally require children bring supplies like markers, paper, rulers, backpacks, and the like. Add in clothes to replace those they have outgrown, and the process can take a good deal of time and funds.
  • Activities. Have a plan to communicate the different activities. A shared calendar can help parents organize everything from school drop off and pick up to concerts or sporting events.

The old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure holds true for child custody matters. Taking the time to discuss these things during the divorce and include them within the custody arrangement can help to better ensure a smooth transition to family life after the divorce is finalized.

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