Who Gets to Decide Where the Kids Go To School?

Raising children when you are divorced or no longer together as a couple can be a very complex endeavor. Especially when your dealing with common child custody issues. Lots of decisions need to be made over the course of the child’s life, and it needs to be clear who will be responsible for making these decisions in case there is a disagreement. For example, one of the most important decisions that must be made in a child’s life is the decision of where the child will go to school.

Who Decides Where a Child Will Go To School?

When your custody agreement is created, it should answer questions about who gets to make decisions for your kids. The custody agreement can be created either by a judge or by the parents working together outside of court to come to an agreement. Either way, though, the agreement has to have information about who has the right to make choices for the kids.

Generally, in order to make clear who has decision-making authority, the custody agreement will specify who has “legal custody.” This is different than physical custody, which refers to where the kids live. Legal custody refers to who gets to make key choices on behalf of the child, including choices about education and medical issues.

If the divorce agreement specifies that only one parent has legal custody and the authority to make decisions, then that parent will be able to decide where the kids go to school. The other parent can offer his or her opinion of course, but that doesn’t mean that the deciding parent has to listen. If the parent who doesn’t have the authority to make decisions believes that a major mistake has been made or that something has gone wrong, then that parent can petition the court for a change to the custody arrangement that would give him/her more authority over the decision on where the child should go to school. However, there would need to be a good reason for a change to be made or for the court not to allow the parent with legal custody to make the choice about where the child should attend school.

If the divorce agreement specifies that both parents have legal custody and the right to make choices, then things become more complicated. The parents should try to agree on where the kids will be going to school in this situation, because each has a say and can veto the decisions of the other if they don’t agree. If parents truly cannot come to an agreement, then they can turn to the courts for help in resolving their dispute. The court will make a decision about which parent’s school choice is the right one by taking into consideration the best interests of the child.

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