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What if parents disagree on where their children should attend school?

On Behalf of | Nov 27, 2023 | Child Custody

West Michigan has some excellent public school options. There are also numerous private schools with good reputations and an assortment of different charter schools as well. Most parents enroll their children at the nearest public school, although some families make use of the Michigan school of choice program to enroll in a different district.

Parents may worry that the closest school isn’t the best option for their children in some situations. As long as they agree with one another, parents can choose from an assortment of different educational opportunities. Unfortunately, divorced and separated parents do not always agree about where their children should attend.

What happens if the adults in the family do not agree about where they want to enroll their children when they share custody?

The custody order can resolve the disagreement

It is typical for parents in Michigan to share both physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to time spent with the children and the obligation to meet their basic needs. The parent with physical custody is the one feeding them and transporting them to school on any given day.

Legal custody, on the other hand, has to do with the decisions that parents make about their children. Legal custody is what allows a parent to seek medical care for their child, enroll them in school or take them to religious services. Most parents who share custody have to share that decision-making authority in addition to sharing time with their children.

Typically, parents need to reach an agreement on major matters, although sometimes a custody order indicates that one adult has the final decision-making authority in certain matters. If one parent has the final say in educational matters, they can decide where the children attend school. Otherwise, the parents may need to have an in-depth conversation about the different educational opportunities for the children to try to reach an agreement on the matter.

If they cannot find a solution that both parents agree is appropriate, then they may need to take the issue to the family courts. A judge ruling on a parenting matter will always focus on what would be best for the children. The educational opportunities and peer relationships that different schools may offer them will often be the deciding factor if parents litigate to resolve a dispute about school enrollment.