Congratulations to the Class of 2020! Like many families, I did not anticipate that senior year at Guilderland High School was going to end like this. My student counted 14 events that she will have missed! I am not alone in trying to have my student enjoy the momentous occasion of graduation during a pandemic. I love the signs that have popped up all over town recognizing students on their high school, college, and advanced degree graduations.

Like many other high schools, Guilderland is also considering a drive-in movie theater graduation. I think this is an incredible idea and will bring the community together more than each family sitting at the kitchen table watching a virtual gradation.

One of the problems of the drive-in theater- not enough spaces for each student to have more than one “family” vehicle. While on the surface this does not seem like a problem, for many students with blended families and separated parents, this can cause issues.

Questions and calls that I am expecting:

1. Custody Order:
Q: According to our Order it is my day (or not my day). Does that mean I am the only parent who attends (or does not attend) graduation?
A: If your student is over 18, Custody Orders are no longer applicable (although you do have a legal obligation to support a child until he is 21). If your student is under 18, what is in her best interest? If you are the only parent who attends graduation, in the scheme of your child’s entire life, it may be a very shallow victory, and come back to haunt you. Should your child’s special day, clouded enough already, include being a pawn in his parents’ battle?

2. Q: There is not enough room in the car for parents, stepparents, and various other relatives.
A: After the parents, and perhaps siblings, ask your child. If she does not want to shoulder that burden, flip a coin. It is as good as any court can do for you.

3. Q: My child’s live-away college has gone online for next year and he will be living at home. What does that mean for support? Will I be paid the same amount as college for room and board?
A. This is unchartered territory, but akin to a child attending a community college. If your child is over 18, he is not bound by any Custody Order. The parent he primarily lives with will be entitled to child support. However, you will not be able to “charge” the same rate as his college .

To the graduates: This is a rough time for your families- emotionally, financially, and perhaps health wise. Be kind as you forge ahead, keep socially distanced, and make Guilderland proud!

June 2020 Margaret Tabak

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