The Impact of Child Custody Issues on School Safety (Part 1)

Developing appropriate school policies and following court orders and state laws can minimize your campus’ liability exposure as well as prevent child abuse, workplace violence and domestic violence.

A putative father is a male who is alleged to be or claims he may be a child’s father but who is not presumed to be the child’s father by law, has not established paternity of the child in a court proceeding and has not established paternity of the child by executing a paternity affidavit before the filing of an adoption petition.

A currently married man and woman have no written documentation or court order to prove their rights to care, custody and control of children born during their marriage. Neither a father nor a mother in an intact marriage has written documentation or court order setting out custody and parenting time for their children born during their marriage.

When the marriage ends in divorce, there will be written documentation or court orders spelling out the rights and responsibilities of the former husband and former wife to children born during their marriage.

Parents Must Provide Written Documents, Court Orders

School staff must urge parents to provide current and complete written documentation and court orders to the school. School districts must have a fairly foolproof method for filing and reviewing the paperwork. For example, if a man comes to a school and claims he is the father of a child and wishes to leave school with the child, the school must be able to quickly determine if the man is indeed the legal father with rights to the child, who has physical custody of the child, and if the physical custodian has authorized the man to leave the school with the child.

Related Article: Who’s On Your Campus? Making Visitor Management a High Priority at K-12 Schools

When school records contain information about grandparents, it is necessary to determine if a grandparent is the paternal grandparent (the father’s parents) or the maternal grandparent (the mother’s parents), or a step-grandparent who has married a grandparent.

Men and women who have children out of wedlock may not have written documentation or court orders defining their rights and responsibilities concerning a child. The mother’s legal and physical custody rights are often automatic. The man must take action to prove and formalize his status as father, at which time he will have written documentation or a court order to prove he is the legal father and to define his custody or parenting time rights.

In many jurisdictions the term used for visitation is now “parenting time” in an effort to more accurately describe the time a non-custodial parent spends with a child. Generally the parent who has physical custody may not prevent the other parent from spending time with a child. Many states have adopted lengthy parenting time guidelines, defining the relationship among parents and their children so courts need not litigate the details in each case.

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