Sometimes, one parent is awarded sole physical and legal custody of a child. When this happens, decision-making is straightforward, since the parent can act unilaterally. But more often than not, joint legal custody is given to both parents. And depending on the circumstances, where a child goes to school can become a complicated issue.
Communication and cooperation
When both parents are given joint legal custody, the best-case scenario is that the parents are able to work together. If they can agree upon where their child should go to school – whether that means remaining in a current school or changing to another – their cooperation will yield benefits. The parents know better than anyone what their child needs and what’s best for the family as a whole, so they’re in the best position to decide what’s critical, what isn’t, and how decision will impact their child’s future.
What if the parents can’t agree?
When the parents are not able to work out school location between themselves, their first option may be to work with a mediator. Child custody issues can be filled with emotion, making it difficult to get through one’s own internal struggles and work well with the other parent. A trained mediator, either sought by the parents or appointed by a court, can help to smooth things out and open up good lines of communication. With outside assistance, many parents may be able to make decisions more easily than on their own.
If the parents cannot reach agreement, under any circumstances, the family court steps in and makes the decision for them and the child. The court will hold a hearing and consider many factors. In some cases, where appropriate, the preferences of the child will be taken into consideration. In the end, however, the court will choose whichever school it considers to be in the best interest of the child. And while the court will listen to the input of both parents, the child’s best interest will be paramount.