Hard to believe it’s been seven years since I blogged about this last. Not much has changed on the subject in seven years, but there are trends that have become more common in practice over time.
As mentioned previously, the decision about where children will attend school tends to lean in favor of where the children previously attended. The most common exceptions are (a) if the parents agree about the child attending a different school; or (b) neither parent resides in the school district of the previous school anymore.
One of the current trends coming from custody professionals is to avoid imposing a change of school on the children by encouraging both separated parents to reside within the child’s school district. That way, if one parent has the need to relocate, the other parent can provide residency for the child to remain a student at their current school.
The other trend is for the parenting plan to contain a provision that a parent who relocates outside of the school district to be responsible for transporting the child to and from school on their custodial days. In some cases, this may impact how many school-night overnights the relocating parent will have. Even if the parent is ready and willing to provide the transportation to and from school, the time a child spends in the car, particularly early in the morning, can put a chilling effect on the relocating parent’s parenting time. The farther away from the school the parent resides, the bigger this issue becomes.
Finally, any effort that one parent makes to avoid naming the other parent as a contact on school forms is heavily frowned upon. Even a parent who has relatively infrequent parenting time is entitled to be informed and updated about the child’s school and how the child is progressing in their education. On occasion, a custodial parent will list their current spouse (the child’s step-parent) as the “other” parent on the registration documents. Both courts and custody professionals will nearly always insist that the child’s natural parents be the contacts listed in the student’s school file.