Life often takes many twists and turns. After a divorce, each ex-spouse moves on with his or her new life. New job opportunities may make it necessary to move to a new home. New relationships may lead to relocating to a new home. Changes in the needs and interests of a child may require a change of direction. Even if you believe a new school has a program that meets the needs of your child better than his or her current school, does your ex agree with your assessment?
When parents of minor children go through divorce, addressing educational opportunities for the kids is a vital step in resolving custody and parenting time issues. However, the final court order may identify school choice issues as being linked to the address of one parent.
Often, this is to maintain stability for the child. The order may contemplate that the child will continue to attend the same school after divorce. However, if the parent later decides to move to a new home, disputes can easily erupt. With joint legal custody arrangements, parents often share equal authority to make important decisions about their child’s education.
Leave Enough Time To Resolve School Change Disputes
It is important for divorced parents to know that moving to a new home, especially one that is located in a new school district, may require discussions with your ex concerning a school change. Changing schools to improve educational opportunities may also lead to contentious disputes for many parents who share joint legal custody of the children with their ex-spouse.
It may be tempting to delay these discussions until summertime, or even until August – just prior to the new school year. However, delaying the discussion may adversely impact your ability to change schools. Early spring is a good time to begin planning ahead and having discussions about school change issues. That way, if you and your ex cannot agree to a new arrangement, you will have time to build a case to serve the best interests of your child.
The court will need evidence to support your decision in order to modify an existing court order. You may need to consult with a child custody evaluator, as well as obtain expert testimony to present evidence to support a compelling case to resolve a dispute. Opening discussions early, in April if possible, will allow you and your family law attorney to have time to prepare a solid case to present to the judge should a dispute arise concerning your plans for relocation or a change in educational opportunities for your child. Judges have 90 days to issue a ruling under Minnesota law. Delaying the discussions with your ex, and your family law attorney, can weaken your position. Too long of a delay may result in eliminating the chance to change schools.