President Franklin D. Roosevelt once observed that "We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future." This aspiration is what inspires parents to seek out solid educational programs and enriching experiences for their kids. Without strong academic and social foundations, children may struggle unnecessarily for much of their lives. Because the stakes of a young child's schooling are so high, parents tend to be very invested in where their child attends K-12. When a child's parents are no longer together, and they disagree on where their child should attend school, that point of contention can escalate both quickly and meaningfully.
Who Has the Authority to Make Schooling Decisions?
The nation's courts have long recognized that a fit parent has a right to raise their children. In Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651 (1972), for example, the U.S. Supreme Court observed that this right is “far more precious… than property rights.” As a result of this reality, courts do not strip parents of their right to meaningfully impact their child's upbringing lightly. Even if one parent is granted sole or primary physical custody of a child, it's extremely rare that a court would deny a child's other (fit) parent joint legal custody.
Physical custody primarily concerns where a child resides and which parent has the authority to make day-to-day regarding their child's care. Legal custody empowers a parent to make decisions concerning their child's medical, religious, and educational well-being, as these are fundamental aspects of a child's experience. Thus, if you and your co-parent share legal custody and you can't agree on where your child should attend school, your situation is potentially very sticky because you are both empowered to make this choice.
If You and Your Co-parent Share Legal Custody and Don't Agree About School Choice
If your parenting plan indicates that one of you gets to make this decision based on where your child resides, you'll need to honor the terms of your plan unless or until the plan is formally modified. We can work with you to negotiate a modification, pursue mediation, or – if necessary – file or fight (depending on your situation) a formal modification request with the court.
If you either don't have a parenting plan in place yet or your parenting plan doesn't specify how disagreements like this should be resolved, our team can help you to negotiate, mediate, or litigate a solution. In every scenario, we'll strive to ensure that your child's best interests are upheld. Each family is different, so the most effective approach to seeking a resolution for yours may be different than it is for someone else's.
Custody and Parenting Plan Matters: Personalized Guidance Is Available
If you and your co-parent are struggling to settle on where your child should attend school, know that the experienced Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm is here to help. Whether you hope to negotiate a parenting plan modification or you need to manage broader custody arrangements in the wake of a decision to divorce, the Lento Law Firm's Family Law Team can assist you with your legal needs efficiently and effectively.
To learn more about how we can help you to resolve this consequential challenge, schedule a confidential consultation with our team today by calling 888-535-3686 or by contacting us online. We look forward to working with you.