Who Decides Which School the Kids Will Go to After a Divorce?

A divorce can be quite devastating for all parties involved, especially the children of divorcing couples whose lives are often affected in a variety of ways. One issue that frequently arises during a divorce is a dispute over where the children will attend school after the parents have moved their separate directions. Children with parents involved in an active divorce case at family court often worry that they will be uprooted from the friends and teachers that they have come to know, or that they will bounce around between different schools each year.

So who exactly gets to decide where the minor children will go to school after a divorce? Divorce lawyers will advise their clients that the answer depends on the custody order. When one parent has sole legal custody, then that parent has the right to choose which school the children will attend without the input of the other parent. On the other hand, when parents share joint legal custody, they have to agree on various important decisions related to the children, including which school to send their children to.Thus, one parent cannot enroll the parties’ minor children into a school without the consent of the other parent. If the joint custody/parenting plan doesn’t already address the issue of which school the children will attend, then the parents either have to come to an agreement on their own, agree in mediation, or direct their family law attorney to file a motion and take it to court for the Judge to decide. If the Judge is left to decide which school the minor children will attend, the Judge will typically look at what is in the best interests of the children. Some factors include, but are not limited to, desires of the children/parents, previous school selection by the parents, academic standard, proximity to custodial parent, children’s educational needs, commuting time from each parent’s home, tuition cost, etc. In situations where the children are already attending a certain school, then the likelihood of them continuing to attend that school is quite high, unless a compelling case is made that continuing attendance at that particular school is not in line with the children’s best interests. However, when the children are about to start kindergarten or are transitioning into a middle school, junior high school, or high school, then the decision might be a bit more complicated and the Judge will have to take various factors into consideration.

If you are worried about custody arrangement and how a divorce may affect your rights to make decisions on behalf of your child or children, it may be a good idea to get assistance from an experienced attorney to help guide your through the divorce process. Nancy J. Bickford is the only attorney in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Call 858-793-8884 to receive assistance today.


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