If you and your spouse are in the midst of a divorce and share children, you might be wondering who will make the decisions regarding the children's education in the aftermath once the dust has settled. Oftentimes, parents cease to live in the same school district where their children were attending school prior to the divorce and, while it might seem better to keep children in the same school, this is not always possible or in their best interests. For example, if a parent moves to a different neighborhood with a better school, switching schools might be more advantageous for the children. In cases such as this, would the parent with primary custody get to call the shots or do the parents make this decision jointly?
Legal Custody Versus Physical Custody
When it comes to matters of child custody, it is crucial to understand the difference between the two different types that exist. Physical custody refers to the right and responsibility of a parent to care for and provide a home for the children. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the right and responsibility of a parent to make decisions that relate to a child’s upbringing, such as religious upbringing, health care, and education.
Therefore, when the time comes to make decisions regarding the children’s educational needs, this will largely depend on the parent who is granted legal custody in the divorce. Of course, as is the case with physical custody, legal custody can be shared jointly, and is usually favored by the courts unless there is a reason that justifies granting sole legal custody to one parent that better protects the best interests of the children.
Education Decisions Should be Incorporated into Your Divorce Agreement
There is a lot to go over during a divorce and the number of issues you have might seem insurmountable. As such, many divorcing spouses forego having to deal with decisions that do not require an immediate resolution. Future decisions about the children’s education tend to fall into that category. Delaying important issues like this can lead to problems later on down the road, translating into further additional legal fees and the possibility of having to return to court. If you and your spouse are in agreement regarding the educational future of your children, it might not be a big deal to put it off, but if you are not, it is best to resolve it during your divorce.
Resolving Education Decisions and Issues Post-Divorce
If the issue of your children’s education was not addressed in your divorce agreement, there are ways to go about fixing it. However, if all of your options fail, you might have no choice but to head back to court and leave the decision up to a judge. Your alternative options include:
- Talk about it: If you are on relatively good terms with your ex-spouse, you might want to first start by having a discussion with him or her. This can be done one-on-one or with the assistance of your respective attorneys. Do not assume that your ex will be hostile until you ask. Discussing it, even with legal help, can be a cost-effective and productive solution to your problems.
- Mediation: If discussing the issue with your ex-spouse is not possible, you can consider mediation. Through this process, a trained mediator will sit with you and your ex-spouse to find a solution to your dilemma regarding the education of your children. The cost of the mediator can be divided between you and your ex. As long as you and your ex-spouse are able and willing to negotiate, mediation can successfully keep you out of court and save on additional legal fees.
If both of these options fail, going back to court might be your only option. If the court decides that the children are old enough to contribute to the conversation of their choice of school, the judge might ask for their opinion and may take it into account. Nevertheless, any decision the court comes up with will ultimately strive to serve the best interests of the children.
Child Custody Attorney in Chesterfield
If you and your ex-spouse are having difficulty reaching an agreement on the choice of your children’s school, consider hiring skilled legal help to assist you throughout this difficult time. At Galmiche Law Firm, P.C., our Chesterfield child custody attorney has over 30 years of experience in providing clients with the compassionate and knowledgeable representation they deserve. We will help you find a resolution.
We represent clients in St. Louis, Missouri and in surrounding areas of Missouri. Contact us today at (636) 552-4841 to schedule your free initial consultation. Work directly with an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of family law.