Coping with Digital Education as a Divorced Father or mother

blog home Child custody Your custody plan and the virtual school

Posted by Thomas Huguenor on Sep 21, 2020 in Custody

For parents living in San Diego, the past few months have been extremely confusing about the school reopening. Only recently, the district announced its decision that each individual school can decide whether or not to reopen. While some have chosen to continue distance learning, others have chosen a combination of classroom teaching and virtual teaching. In fact, the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) has decided to remain closed to one-to-one tuition for the Fall 2020 school year and to require students to attend distance learning for most students for the remainder of the year.

In any situation, parents are likely to feel stressed out about how to advance into fall semester 2020. For divorced parents, this may have meant a return to traditional custody plans, but for many it probably hasn’t.

How the quarantine affected the retention plans

Legally, parents are still expected to adhere to custody plans during the COVID-19 outbreak. This means that if your custody plan says you will have custody during the school year, the child should live with you. However, many divorced parents were forced to reconsider a temporary change during quarantine as they got used to new restrictions.

Parents may have changed their custody plans to minimize the risk of their child getting exposed to the virus. This can take many forms, e.g. B. the restriction of the visit to the parental home instead of public places or the virtual visit via Zoom or Facetime. The California courts have even prepared guidelines for virtual visits to help parents and children adapt to changing schedules. Some may have gotten into a difficult situation where one parent had more time with a child than the other, often to protect the child from contracting COVID-19.

It was hoped that the school semester would return to normal timetables in the fall of 2020 when the schools reopened. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, and many parents may have to continue with a changed schedule through 2021. In addition, this can lead to further disputes over whether or not a child should return to school or continue virtual learning. While SDUSD has a hybrid plan for distance learning and limited personal instruction, many private schools have requested reopening of exemptions. So there are some schools where children may be able to return.

But what if one parent doesn’t feel it’s safe? What if they would prefer the child to continue their distance learning but the other parent not?

Well, in California, that decision rests with the person who has custody. In some cases, one parent has custody, which means that the child lives with them primarily while the other parent has custody to make decisions about the child’s education. That means, who has custody has the final decision. However, many parents also have joint custody arrangements where both parents have custody, which means they need to come to a consensus. How do parents resolve such an argument?

Can the courts participate?

The courts in San Diego prefer parents to solve problems without the involvement of a judge, often through mediation. However, parents can file an application for tiebreaker with the court. If you and the other parent cannot agree on a custody plan during quarantine, or if a child is due to go to school, a judge can review both arguments and make a decision. This is often not ideal as these decisions can be viewed as final and difficult to reverse.

In general, courts do not decide in favor of a child’s home schooling if they have already attended school, but virtual schooling is a different case overall. A judge may determine that virtual school is the safest option for your child and suggest changing the custody arrangements so that the child can study in the best possible situation. However, the judges understand that many parents are currently in a difficult situation and may lose visiting time. That’s why they work with you to come up with a plan to spend time with your child, either virtually or in person.

School disputes and custody plans are a difficult situation for divorced parents, especially during a pandemic. For this reason, if you need legal advice about changing a custody plan due to COVID-19 restrictions, speak to an experienced custody attorney in San Diego. The rules and requirements may seem extremely confusing right now, and you want solid legal counsel by your side if you and your child’s other parents have an argument. Huguenor Mattis, APC’s legal team can provide this guide. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, call our office at (858) 458-9500.

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