Your children’s education is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. Public or private school. Accelerated or regular-track classes. Where to attend college. While these educational decisions can be difficult for all parents to navigate, they can be even more frustrating and fraught with potential fighting for divorced and separated parents.If you and your ex share joint legal custody of your child, but you don’t agree on certain aspects of your child’s education, there is a process you can follow to get some help with the decision.
Mediation for post-divorce disputes operates much the same as it does when trying to finalize the terms of a divorce.A neutral third-party, often a lawyer or judge, is chosen as the mediator. You and your ex meet with the mediator and discuss both of your perspectives on the issue. While the mediator cannot give anyone specific legal advice, nor can they make the decision for you, they can help you and your ex discuss your differences of opinion and potentially come to a mutually agreeable conclusion. Mediation is seen as a good first step for many co-parents, as it is a less stressful, less combative, and less costly venue to talk terms than a courtroom or even the office of one party or the other’s lawyer.However, mediating a conflict isn’t always fruitful for one reason or another. In these instances, the matter must proceed to court.
Filing a Motion
If you and your ex don’t agree on something crucial regarding your child’s education and you need the court’s input, you first must file for a hearing on the matter.This can be handled by you as a pro se party, or by your attorney, if you have chosen to retain one in the matter. You and your ex – as well as your attorneys, if they’re involved – will then begin to gather evidence regarding your own perspectives on the schooling matter. This evidence can include information about the school situation you want for your children, the one they’re in, their academic performance, and any other data and documents that you feel may be beneficial in making your case.
At your hearing before a judge, you and your ex will both have a chance to offer your perspective to the judge.The judge doesn’t make a determination on the education matter directly; instead, the judge determines which parent should be given the opportunity to make the decision in the matter. Your child, if they’re considered old enough to have input in the matter, may be asked for their opinion, especially in cases where they’ll be required to change schools.
Appealing the Decision
If you feel that the judge made an error in awarding your ex the ability to make the decision, you do have the opportunity to appeal that decision.However, something to keep in mind is that the appeals process can take a long time and cost a lot of money. Unless you feel very strongly that the judge’s decision will negatively impact your child and their education, it may be best to move forward with the ruling.