Remote/Virtual Learning and Separated Parents

Reviewed and approved by Kathryn Wayne Spindler

Co-parenting is not easy. In fact, it is extremely difficult, especially when the co-parents have animosity towards one another. The Covid-19 pandemic has not helped these types of situations and do many changes have occurred. In 2022-2023 some schools are return to normal but many have new rules. And many people have chosen to stay in alternative type learning because when forced into it they found it was good for them.

Many school districts switched to virtual learning, or had an option for virtual learning if the school district was going back in-person. Some schools even offered a hybrid learning where the students would be in person sometimes, and other times would be virtual. Parents were faced with deciding what the best decision for their child would be. This was a complicated time for everyone, and even more complicated for divorced parents, families with parenting time schedules, and those who were involved with the Michigan courts since the start of the covid-19 pandemic.

In a matter where the parents are separated and/or divorced, the Court grants custody. Joint legal custody means that parents share the decision-making authority on all important decisions that affects the child’s welfare. Deciding what type of schooling that a child should attend is a decision that affects the child’s welfare, therefore is a decision that co-parents must decide together (if joint legal custody is ordered). This is still an issue for the upcoming academic years as some schools are offering virtual learning and in-person learning for their students. Parents with joint legal custody must continue to make these decisions together.

So, what happens when the parents cannot decide whether virtual learning or in-person learning is best for their child? Parents should not act on their own. Both parents are going to believe that they have the best interests of their child in mind when making decisions. Wanting what is best for the child can include their physical, mental, and emotional well-being, socialization, and education. Parents have to struggle also as they are likely under pressure to maintain their own work and productivity levels while being transitioned to an at home workplace.

Pursuant to Michigan law, if parents do not agree on a major decision that involves the minor child (including something such as remote/virtual learning), the Court may come between the two parties and have a hearing to decide the issue. In these hearings, a judge hears arguments from both parties and then make a final decision.

If co-parents cannot agree on this matter, they should consult with a family law attorney before arguments ensue and things get out of control. In most cases, the issues can be resolved between the parents, informally, and if necessary, with attorneys for the parents. If an agreement cannot be reached, family law attorneys can file the necessary motions to seek the relief requested by their client. The motion is then decided by a Judge or the Friend of the Court. Co-parents should have an open and honest talk about how they plan on handling any ongoing challenges that may occur in the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year, as it seems most schools will be back to in-person learning with the option of virtual learning.

There will always be challenges and issues to face, but especially in the next coming months as the pandemic protocols are being lifted and many questions surrounding the unknowns of what lies next with the pandemic. If you are in need of any assistance regarding family law matters, reach out to an attorney and discuss your options. The covid pandemic may be over but the issues of schooling have been and will continue to be real issues in families.

The attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates are experienced attorneys who change with the times to meet the needs of their clients.  Contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000 for assistance. The attorneys of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates practice law throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Genesee and Livingston counties as well as four mid-Michigan counties Clare, Gladwin, Ogemaw and Roscommon. The attorneys handle cases in Milford; Highland; Hartland; White Lake; Wixom; Commerce; Walled Lake; Waterford; West Bloomfield; Linden; Fenton; Flint; Grand Blanc; Holly; South Lyon; New Hudson; Howell; Clare; Gladwin; Houghton Lake; Higgins Lake; and many more Michigan communities. And soon to be opening another office in Dadeville, Alabama.

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