We say from a "teacher's" perspective, but this generally applies to all the staff at the school.
Schools, and their staff, often get caught in the middle of feuding parents, they are also very aware of the impact that feuding has on children.
Children's academic performance
often drops and behaviourally they can become withdrawn or act out.
Schools are generally very accommodating, and the use of school websites and email notices to parents makes it very easy to provide duplicate information. Unfortunately, not all things can be done through the internet, and providing information to both parents can be an extra burden on the school and the staff. Having to do separate parent teacher interviews, one with each parent, is an example of that extra demand.
Sometimes, schools choose one particular parent to deal with, either in general or perhaps exclusively. This can make things easier for the school, but it can exacerbate the problems that the family is having and can fuel the conflict between the parents.
A co-parenting coordinator can completely protect the school from being caught in the middle, without the consequences noted above. From the school's perspective, the co-parenting coordinator will:
- ensure that report cards and school photos are shared,
- ensure that attendance at school performances are managed and pre-planned so that confrontations are avoided and children aren't placed in awkward situations and loyalty binds,
- assist the parents "get onto the same page" on all the educational aspects of their children,
- ensure that there is some consistency in doing homework in both homes,
- help the family put strategies into place so that the "it's at my Mom's/Dad's house" claim isn't an actual problem, and so that children can't use it as a delay/avoid strategy,
- ensure that there are not exchange confrontations at the school, which sometimes results in the police coming to the school, and
- ensure that the children aren't registered in two different schools, and that's why they are only attending every other week*.
*Really! That actually happened! In Calgary, in September 2005. The parenting schedule was an alternating week type, and the parents lived in different communities. They didn't agree on which school the children would attend and each parent registered the children in the school that was in their respective communities. We don't know when or how it got resolved, but three weeks into September the children were attending two different schools on an alternating week basis!
In situations such as this, it could take weeks for the court to deal with it. If one or both parties in a court action want to delay the process, it is very easy to do. Simply changing lawyers can delay things for a couple weeks.
With a co-parenting coordinator in place, the parents would be assisted in coming to an agreement on which school the children would attend. If the impasse could not be overcome, the co-parenting coordinator would make a binding decision. Free from the procedural and schedule constraints of the courts, a co-parenting coordinator can ensure that the issue gets addressed thoroughly, in a timely manner, and that a prompt determination is obtained.
What can you do as a teacher, principal, or other school staff?
Be aware of when any of your children are having problems with their families, and if the issue is separation or divorce, ensure that their parents know about co-parenting coordination.
For schools in locations where there is also a Canadian Co-Parenting Centre, please contact us about forming a relationship with either your school or your entire school board, so that families can readily receive the information and services that they require.
If there is not a Canadian Co-Parenting Centre in your location, please still contact us. Perhaps a relationship with your organization will be enough to initiate the creation of a new centre.