A divorce represents a significant life-changing event. Parents may need to move out of the family home, move to a more affordable area, move closer to family, or move for a new job. Divorce can be hard on kids and combining a recent divorce with a new move can be stressful for both parents and children alike. Avoiding a dispute related to moving schools can help reduce the stress and anxiety for the child and set them up with the best chance to succeed in the future.
If you have any questions about relocation, changing schools, or legal custody disputes after a divorce in Missouri, contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm for help.
Why Change Your Child's Schools After a Divorce?
Parents may have a number of reasons for changing their child's school after a divorce. Changing the child's school should generally be done where it is in the child's best interests. Changing schools may require consent or agreement of the other spouse, depending on the parents' custody situation.
After a divorce or separation, one or both parents may end up moving to a different area or even a different state. When the custodial parent moves, this may place the child in a different school district. A nearby school district may allow a child to finish out the school year at their current school but other situations may require taking the child out of school mid-school-year.
Bullying in School
A divorce or separation is a difficult time for a child. This can leave children more vulnerable to becoming victims of bullying. Children may act withdrawn after a separation and bullies may pick up on the child's vulnerability. When a parent finds their child is being bullied at school and the school does not seem to address the problem, the parent may want to take their child to a different school. However, it is important for parents to understand that just moving schools may not put an end to bullying.
Homeschooling After a Divorce
Some parents have different ideas about homeschooling versus attending a public or private school. After a separation, one parent may want to focus more on spending time with the children and believe that teaching the child at home will provide for a better learning environment. A parent may also want to homeschool their child because of problems at their current school, like a drop in performance or bullying.
Spouse Changing Schools Without Consent
Whether or not you need the other parent's consent to change your child's school may depend on the child custody situation. Legal custody generally includes the decision-making rights, responsibilities, and authority relating to the health, education, and welfare of the child. Legal custody can be joint legal custody, allocated to one parent, or apportioned to each or both parents.
When one parent has sole legal custody or sole legal custody over education decisions, that parent may be able to change the child's school without the other parent's consent. However, just because one parent has the legal right to change the child's school does not necessarily mean the other parent won't try and cause a problem over changing schools. Talk to your Missouri child custody lawyer about any disputes related to moving schools.
If both parents share legal custody over education decisions, the parents will generally have to come to an agreement over whether or not to change schools. If one parent takes the child out of school without the other parent's consent, the other parent may be able to get a court order requiring the child to return to the prior school and/or hold the parent in contempt of court.
If the parents cannot agree over what to do about changing schools, they may be able to have the court decide what will be in the child's best interests. The court will generally refer the case to mediation. During mediation, the 3rd party mediator will work with the parents to help them come up with a mutually agreeable solution and avoid having a judge decide the issue, which may be a matter of last resort.
Experienced Missouri Family Law Attorney
Child custody disputes are best handled with the advice of an experienced family law attorney. Cass County family lawyer Joshua Wilson has years of experience in custody disputes involving educational decisions. Contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today at (816) 331-9968 for a consultation.