How PA School Closures Impact Child Custody

Posted on May 7th, 2020 in Child Custody/Support

After Governor Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania schools would remain closed for physical instruction through the rest of the academic year, many parents had obvious concerns for their children’s education and academic success. However, for some parents, this brought about larger issues of child custody plans for the rest of the school year and summer. While some parenting plans have references and backup options in case of emergency, most families with shared custody had not included provisions for long-term school closures. 

PA Parenting Plans & Child Custody – School Closures

When the novel coronavirus hit the Keystone State, state officials had hoped to keep the school year on track so as to not disrupt the learning process. However, as the virus spread, it was evident that school closures and the transition to online learning were a necessity. 

School districts feared legal repercussions from families who could not provide access to technology, in turn infringing on a student’s right to education. But, school officials worked to get the internet and computers to families in need. 

While that was critical to the plans, it did not account for the students who live between two households and while handling the difficult transition to online learning, must be moved from home to home as per custody agreements.

As we’ve watched the situation evolve during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are in their own time of transition, trying to determine how these school closures impact their custody agreements and their summer custody schedule. 

Many families use the start and end of the school day as their designated custody pick-up schedule. But with classes now in session online, parents must negotiate how shared custody works in a COVID-19 era.

Some parenting plans offer leeway on emergencies, but when the emergency stretches until the next academic year, what’s a parent to do?

The first thing to remember is that school is still in session, even though the classroom is now home. Students should be attending classes virtually and participating in their education. This is why now, more than ever, separated parents need to communicate on the child’s academic needs to ensure he or she does not fall behind in the next school year.

This also includes parents having a right to their child’s academic records. If one parent is the primary holder of such information, they are to share that with the noncustodial parent, unless other legal reasons exist that they are not permitted to that knowledge.

If the parent is not cooperative, then the other must contact the school to have access to that information. In dire cases, legal intervention may be needed.

Legal Support for Parents During COVID-19

No one wants to go to court over custody right now–especially with closures making it difficult to be heard over a custody disagreement. However, with the right legal intervention, you and your ex may be able to establish a new custody agreement during this unprecedented time.

When it comes to COVID-19 custody disagreements for Pennsylvania parents, you need to come to the table ready to discuss. Some items you may want to cover before it becomes another issue include:

  • Access to a child’s academic records
  • New custody pickup and drop off locations
  • Summer custody plans–you are still entitled to vacation time, even if that means staying at home
  • Temporary custody modifications if one parent does not have equal access to the needed technology for the student to attend virtual classes

Contact Us

We know that navigating the new education requirements during COVID-19 has greatly altered custody agreements. But if you are facing difficulties with your ex on custody plans, you need legal help. Schedule a free consultation today and we’ll help make sense of it all!

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