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How to protect your child at school when there's a custody issue

What are your rights at school when there's a custody dispute going on?

You may be afraid of any number of things, but the idea that your child's other parent might try to abduct your child may never be far from your mind. Parental abductions are an unfortunate reality when parents have trouble adjusting to the limitations courts sometimes set on their custody and visitation.

In order to protect your child at preschool or primary school, you need to be aware that the other parent has a right to your child's school records even if his or her custody and visitation is restricted.

The only way to prevent that access is to ask the judge in your case to specifically restrict it. Otherwise, the other parent can easily keep track of your child's schedule, field trips and other important information that he or she may use to plan an abduction. Judges will generally prevent a parent from having access if there's a credible threat of abduction or a history of abuse.

You need to review the permissions on the school's records and remove the name of anyone that you feel may be a threat. For example, if you're concerned that your child's mother may abduct your child, review the list for old "pick up" permissions given to her best friend, parents or siblings.

Make certain that the school has copies of your court-ordered custody arrangement. Take a copy for the file and for your child's instructor. Never assume that the correct information will be relayed through channels if there's an issue that has you concerned. It may even be necessary to request a staff meeting so that you're sure the people who watch the playground and the office staff are all informed.

Even when a noncustodial parent has no intention of harming the child, custodial interference is a serious problem that can disrupt lives and sever the important ties to your children. If you're concerned about the possibility, don't hesitate to take steps to ensure your child's safety at school.

Source: Campus Safety Magazine, "How Schools Should Protect Students from Child Custody Disputes," Amy Rock, accessed May 15, 2018

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