In the past, fathers have sometimes been bypassed when it comes to access to children’s medical, school or other important records, particularly if they were not the primary custodian of the children. Today, the law has begun to recognize the right of both parents to have access to all important information about a child, particularly if the parents live far apart. However, it is still critical that you ensure that your rights are protected by your divorce agreement just in case there is ever any issue surrounding your access to your child’s information.
As a parent, you have many rights in California when it comes to the education of your child. According to California’s Education Code Section 51101, both parents have the right to:
- Observe your child’s classroom by making a request to do so with the school;
- Volunteer to work in your child’s classroom;
- To be notified if your child is absent from school without permission;
- To receive the results of your child’s standardized tests;
- To request copies of school records;
- To receive any information available about psychological testing ordered for the child;
- To be notified if the child is determined to be at-risk for retention;
- To be notified and to participate in any meetings concerning special education needs for the child.
In some schools, parents are asked to list a primary and secondary contact for emergencies. While most parents decide this by mutual agreement, you can insist that your name appear on the child’s records as an emergency contact and that you be notified if your child is taken out of school for illness.
As a parent, you have a right to be consulted about medical procedures that your child may undergo. However, there may be times when your child would need urgent medical care, such as in a hospital emergency room, and only one parent is available to consent. In those cases, it is generally assumed, absent evidence to the contrary, that either parent can consent to emergency treatment.
The question becomes a bit more complex when non-essential or non-emergency medical treatment is planned. Whether you have the right to refuse to allow such treatment for your child when your former spouse consents is a difficult issue to resolve and may require a hearing in front of a judge. Your divorce agreement will become paramount in such a decision, so it is important that it is written correctly.
If you are facing a divorce and custody situation, contact the attorneys at the Men’s Legal Center.