Education Wars: When Parents With Shared Parental Responsibility Disagree on Schooling in Florida

Going through a divorce is already difficult. Then, if you share a child, you will need to navigate the child custody process through the Courts. When these issues have been decided and ordered by the Court, and you have been awarded shared parental responsibility, you will need to make some important and sometimes difficult decisions as co-parents, regarding your child.

Perhaps one of the most difficult of these decisions is determining where your child will go to school. If you are still working on redefining your role as co-parents, this could be one of the first major disagreements that occurs — which has the potential of putting your child directly in the middle of parental conflict, which is not in their best interest.

The Importance of School Choice

There is no denying that where your child goes to school is important, and there are plenty of options, including private school with paid tuition, public school, charter school, and homeschooling. If you have a difference in opinion on the method of teaching your child should receive, it may be difficult to ever agree on a school district.

If you agree on the type of schooling, but cannot agree on a district, the best rule of thumb is to consider the best interests of your child. If you cannot reach a solution as co-parents, a court will have to step in.

Lane v. Lane

As with most decisions affecting small children that cannot be decided between the parents, a court may be assigned to decide which school district is best for your child.

In 2018’s Lane v. Lane in Florida, an appellate court handed down a decision to resolve the argument of two parents with different ideas of how their children should be educated.

Before the matter came to court, the children attended public school. The father approached the mother about enrolling the children in private school, as he believed private school would provide better academic and extracurricular opportunities. He offered to be solely responsible for tuition.

However, the mother refused to have the conversation, and the father filed a motion to the court for authorization. The mother countered with a motion for contempt, alleging the children had been taken for testing without her consent.

In the end, the court sided with the father and ordered the mother to fully cooperate with the process. An appeal by the mother was denied, as she could provide no basis for her argument.

In other words, the court found that the private school option was best for the children.

Making a Determination

There are many factors used in court to determine which schooling option is best for children with parents who share custody/parental responsibility. Rather than simply listening to the arguments of both parents, the court will examine issues including:

  • The wishes of the child
  • The existing relationships between a child and their teachers and peers
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her present school district
  • The child’s educational needs
  • The qualifications of the teachers at each school
  • The curriculum and method of teaching used at each school
  • The child’s current academic performance
  • The child’s current extracurricular activities
  • Whether the child has a medical condition or special needs
  • Whether leaving the school would be damaging to the child’s welfare

Contact an Experienced West Palm Beach Family Law Attorney for Representation

Are you having trouble agreeing with your co-parent on a school choice for your child? This can be a difficult and bitter argument, especially if you are not on great terms. For assistance and representation, contact our dedicated team at The Law Office of Eric C. Cheshire P.A. P.A. in West Palm Beach, by calling (561) 677-8090

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