Where Will My Child Go To School? Understanding the Relationship Between Schools & Custody

Kid walking into school

As a parent, you want the best for your child. During custody disputes, parents are often unsure of where exactly their child will end up going to school, and how details such as the custodial parent's location will impact that decision.

Today, we're covering how Virginia handles custody and schooling, as well as tips for ensuring your child receives the education they deserve - and how doing so could help your co-parenting relationship.

To schedule a consultation with our team at the Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller for your case, contact us online or via phone at (757) 267-4949.

Where Will My Child Go to School in Virginia?

The type of custody arrangement you have will have a significant impact on where your child goes to school.

In sole custody arrangements, where one parent has total legal and physical custody of the child, that parent typically gets to decide where their child attends school. However, sole custody arrangements are fairly uncommon unless the court declares one parent unfit.

Primary physical and joint legal custody arrangements - wherein the child spends more time living with one parent than the other, but both have the right to make decisions for their child - are more common.

In many primary custody arrangements, the parent the child spends most of their time living with - the custodial parent - takes precedence when deciding where the child attends school, since they'll need a location they can get to easily. However, the noncustodial parent - whichever parent the child spends a minority of their time living with - will still get input, since they do have legal custody rights.

Some parents are engaged in a joint physical and legal custody arrangement, wherein the child spends roughly equal time with each parent. In these types arrangements, determining where a child "should" go to school can be challenging since each parent technically has an equal right to enroll their child in the school of their choice.

Typically, decisions concerning where a child attends school are either:

  • Part of a parenting plan the parents draft themselves, if they can reach an agreement; or
  • Left up to the discretion of the court and the judge presiding over the case, if the parents cannot agree on where their child should receive an education.

Either way, by the time your custody case is finalized and you receive your custody order, you should know where your child is going to school and have an arrangement in place for how you'll handle matters such as governing their education and exchanging custody.

What Should We Take Into Account When Choosing a School?

If you're working with your co-parent to decide where your child should attend school, you'll want to take the following considerations into account:

  • Public or private? You and your spouse may have differing opinions on whether your child should obtain a public or private education. Matters such as income can play a big role in this decision, so make sure you're both on the same page.
  • Does religion play a role? If you and your spouse have different preferences concerning your child's religious education, it could be a source of conflict. Try and collaborate to figure out something that works for both of you.
  • Where will you be living? If possible, choosing a school that's close to you and your co-parent will make your lives a lot easier, especially if you have a flexible custody arrangement. Otherwise, consider prioritizing custody according to whichever parent will have the child on more school days/nights.
  • Will you attend school events together? If so, again, choosing a school that's close to both of you will be advantageous. You'll also want to discuss how you'll approach events such as parent-teacher conferences if only one of you wants to go, or you'd both like to know a teacher's concerns but don't feel comfortable attending together.
  • What are your boundaries for your child's education? For example, how much time do you expect them to spend on homework per day? What extracurriculars can they participate in? Reaching a mutual agreement on academic boundaries - and enforcing those boundaries - is crucial if you want an effective co-parenting experience.
  • Is each parent in charge of different aspects of the child’s education? For some parents, dividing responsibilities – so, for example, one parent handles sports-related activities while the other supervises homework – works well. In other custody arrangements, parents may prefer to collaborate on all aspects of their child’s academic and extracurricular activities.

At the Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we'll help you navigate your child custody case, working with you to ensure you pursue the best outcome for your child and their future.

To schedule a consultation with our team or learn more about our services, contact us online or via phone at (757) 267-4949.

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