Back to school (part 3): the potential impact of your child's school on your parenting plan
You and your co-parent have selected a school for your child, and you have resolved how education-related expenses will be paid for, but have you considered the impact these decisions might have on your parenting time in the future, if there is a change in you or your co-parent’s circumstances? The importance of your child’s education is not lost on the court, and the school that your child attends can impact future of your case.
What if you or your co-parent moves farther away from your child’s school?
Depending on the distance of your or your co-parent’s move from your child’s school, your parenting schedule may need to change. Two factors that the court must consider in determining what kind of schedule serves your child’s best interests are the geographical distance between co-parents and your child’s adjustment to their community/school.
If you or your co-parent is contemplating a move that substantially impacts the length of time that it takes for your child to be transported to or from school, it is possible that the court could find that the move necessitates either minor adjustments or drastic changes to the current parenting schedule. For example, if one parent moves a substantial distance from a child’s school, the court may order that one parent have the vast majority or all of the parenting time during the school week, while the other may have more time over the weekends or during holiday and summer months.
When a court assesses a child’s adjustment to their community, the school that he or she has historically attended can have a huge impact on the court’s determination of where a child should live. Because children’s support systems, including friends, teammates, and mentors, tend to be largely sourced from their school, a court will likely want your parenting schedule to be one that enables your child to continue to stay within that same school system.
Moves can be motivated by jobs, finances, relationships, and a myriad of other things. So, if you or your co-parent are considering a move, you should consult with a seasoned family law attorney to determine what your best options may be.
What if you later decide that you prefer a different school for your child?
Whether your change in opinion is motivated by a move, step-siblings attending a different school, or you simply prefer one school over the one that was previously selected, once a school has been selected for your child, it can be challenging to make a change without an agreement from your co-parent. If you and your co-parent reach an impasse on the choice of your child’s school, a court may re-allocate decision-making regarding choice of school to one parent.
What if one parent’s residence controls school selection?
If you previously agreed or a court ordered that one parent’s residence should control the choice of your child’s school, you may have an uphill battle in convincing the court that this should change. The Court will need to consider a number of factors, including the reasons why you think a different school is better suited to your child’s needs, in order to determine whether the controlling residence should change.
Your child’s school choice can have a long-lasting impact on your case. Whether you are in the initial phases of determining where your child should go to school or you think that your child’s school may become an issue moving forward, our lead family law attorneys at GEM Family Law can help you weigh the options that you have.
Authored by: Ashley G. Emerson, Esq.