When divorced or separated parents need to make a decision about where their child or children will attend school in the fall, it can turn into a legal dispute. Regardless of the custodial arrangement that the children live by, it is preferable if the parents can be in agreement about school enrollment. If the parents disagree, then the designation as to legal custody may be important. Parents with joint legal custody share the authority to make a decision about school enrollment. If each parent with joint legal custody has a different school arrangement in mind for the child, then the issue likely needs to be resolved by the family court or a parenting neutral.
Unfortunately, in many instances, the family court judge would rather not make a decision without the input of a parenting neutral, and there may not be time before the beginning of the school year for a parenting neutral to investigate the situation.
When a child’s parents do not share joint legal custody, then there is less likely to be a legal issue regarding school choice. The parents’ disagreement about the choice of school may defer to the decision of the parent with sole legal custody. But the school decision must be made in a manner that is consistent with the best interests of the child.
If the decision is whether to keep the child at the same school, or change the school the child attends, the child is likely to stay attending the same school unless the parents agree to a different school, or there is a compelling reason for the child to change schools over the objection of one of the parents.