UK: Children Caught Up In Divorce: Help Your School To Help Your Child

Last Updated: 27 November 2018
Article by Jennifer Dickson

#ModernFamilies

When a child's life is turned upside down by an acrimonious divorce, school is often their one constant, and this is something which can often be overlooked. They might have a new home, new routine, sometimes a new adult partner to adjust to, but a child keeps going to school every day, having the same lessons, seeing the same friends, same teachers. School life carries on after a marriage has broken down.

Your child's teacher, particularly at primary level, will see your child every day, and a secondary teacher or tutor gets to see them in a light you do not: interacting with friends, working in class, playing sport, or being on their own. Teachers will not want to be drawn in to bitter rows or to take sides, but the likelihood is they will want to help your child. Communication is key. Your child will not be the only one whose parents are separating, and the school is likely to have dealt with similar situations before, so use their wisdom and resources.

Many teachers have experience of pupils being caught in the middle of warring parents. Parents' evenings can be especially fraught, particularly if parents argue publicly or cannot help but make passive aggressive comments to one another in front of teacher and child. Other behaviour can be more underhand – for example, the mother who contacts the school to try to prevent the father from ordering their child's school photograph (although he is entitled to do this), or the father who puts pressure on a form tutor to endorse certain living arrangements.

Almost always, both parents have parental responsibility, which means decisions about their child's education need to be made jointly. Unless there is a court order in place to the contrary, the school is able to send communication to both parents and allow a child to be collected by either parent and should do so.

Competitive parenting (like extravagant weekend trips) can exhaust pupils, and having two bases can cause problems like forgotten PE kit or reading books, or (for opportunistic children) a ready excuse not to do homework. Children tend to need a lot of support at this time, practically and emotionally, and the best way of providing this is usually for parents and schools to work together.

Here are ten tips we have gathered from primary and secondary school teachers on how to help your child and your child's teachers through a marriage or relationship breakdown:

1. Be upfront. Tell the school you are separating. Tell them about any new partners. Tell them what you have told your child, and how much your child knows.

2. Be proportionate. Ask the school to provide copies of all standard communication to each parent, including parents' evening appointments and school reports – but don't ask them to copy all communication to both parents. Especially at secondary level, when your child will have several different subject teachers, schools cannot guarantee their staff will always contact one parent to say the other has been in touch, or that all emails will be copied to both parents.

3. Be involved. Go to as many school events as you can: school plays, sports days, parents' evenings, volunteer to go on school trips to support your child. Don't underestimate how much younger children especially love to show off their mum or dad, and have the comfort of their presence – it feels special to have them in the classroom or on a class trip. The level of parental support and involvement at secondary school is increasing, so if possible, make the most of that.

4. Be positive. Remain as positive about each other as you can in front of your child, and in front of the teacher. Teachers are not judges or referees.

5. Be organised. Try to attend school events at different times if you cannot be in the same room as each other. Most plays will have two performances and parents' evenings will have various slots available, and if that is not possible, wait in different places when you arrive.

6. Be consistent. Where possible, keep a consistent routine for your child and try to ensure they can continue going to the same activities and clubs as before. Give the school clear guidelines: at primary age, a written timetable can be helpful so that class teachers know who is collecting, and when.

7. Be appropriate. Teenagers can appear to grow up quickly when parents separate. Avoid involving them in adult discussions or burden them with having to tell staff about parenting arrangements.

8. Be timely. Get to know the calendar – the school diary can make for stressful situations for children. Christmas in particular can cause a child to be anxious with all the preparations and festivities at school. Not knowing who is coming to what, and whether there will be arguments only increases anxiety levels.

9. Be collaborative. If you have any concerns or complaints about your child's education, try to speak to each other first. Do you agree on this issue? If not, why not? Then approach the school (preferably in person and if possible together) to discuss it.

10. Finally, be mindful. Lean on the school. Ask for help with emotional support for your child. Most schools now have counsellors or Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) who are trained to help children cope with difficult situations, including family breakdown.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Charles Russell Speechlys LLP
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Charles Russell Speechlys LLP
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions