One issue that often comes up during a divorce is the dispute over where the children will attend school after the parents have moved in their separate directions. Sometimes, one parent wants to change the school their child attends, even if the other parent opposes the idea
Whether you can move your child to another school without your former spouse’s approval depends on the custody order issued by the judge:
- If you were given sole legal custody, then you have the right to choose which school your child will attend without the other parent’s approval.
- If you share joint legal custody, you and your former spouse must agree on which school to send your child to.
This post addresses issues that come up when parents share joint legal custody.
Parental Consent on School Issues
If your joint custody/parenting plan doesn’t already spell out which school your child will attend, then you and your former spouse must either come to a mutual agreement, agree in mediation, or file a motion asking the court to make the decision for you. If you ask the court to decide, it will base its ruling on what it things is in the best interests of your child. Factors the court considers include:
- The desires and educational needs of your child.
- The desires of both parents.
- Where your child previously attended school.
- The commuting time from each parent’s home.
- The associated costs to each parent.
Should You Change Your Child’s School?
School choice issues are complicated. Even if your parenting plan allows for your child to go to school anywhere within a certain district or mile radius, is it the right thing to do? Of course, there are at times very good reason for switching schools: it’s a better environment for your child, economic circumstances have changed, or you have had to move to another district after the divorce. Some experts urge parents – who may not be aware of how stressful it is – to not change their child’s school after a divorce. Attending the same school often offers your child the stable support of friends and teachers he or she knows and loves.
If after careful consideration you feel it’s in your child’s best interests to move to another school, it’s always preferable to come to an agreement with the other parent.
If you’re worried that no matter what the reason, your former spouse will simply not agree to a change, it’s best to talk with your family law attorney who can advise you of your options and help facilitate an arrangement that everyone can agree on.