Welcome back to school background with red appleAs summer comes to an end, it is important to remember divorced or non-intact families must approach their child’s schooling a little differently than intact families. For example, many intact families designate one parent to communicate with teachers, fill out school paperwork, and attend parent/teacher conferences. In a family of divorce or when parents live in two separate households, both parents must take responsibility for these tasks. The granting of shared legal custody permits each parent the right to do so.

Legal custody not only gives a parent the right to make major decisions in a child’s life, like what school the child should attend and what extracurricular activities the child should participate in, but also the right to directly communicate with teachers and administrators about the child, receive duplicate copies of report cards, school calendars, and activity notices, as well as, jointly participate in parent/teacher conferences and email communications. As long as a parent has been granted shared legal custody, he or she can never be ignored by the school or the other parent on issues relating to the child.

Additionally, physical custody plays a factor in when a parent can present at the child’s school. For example, in an intact family, a parent may make an impromptu decision to pick up a child from school, regardless of what day of the week the decision occurs. In a non-intact family, this may not be feasible, as school personnel are not permitted to release the child to a non-custodial parent, meaning the pick-up is not occurring on his or her normally scheduled custodial day of the week. Physical custody does not hinder the right of both parents to attend school concerts, sporting events, or school functions, however, regardless of what day of the week those events fall upon.


Boyanowski, C Cara A. Boyanowski concentrates her practice in the field of domestic law and wills and estates.  As a domestic law practitioner, she represents clients in simple and complex divorce, support, custody, alimony, step-parent adoptions, name change and same-sex divorce and custody matters.  She works out of Obermayer’s Harrisburg, PA office and can be reached at 717-234-5315 or at Cara.Boyanowski@obermayer.com.