Can I Change My Child’s School?

Few things are more important to parents than their child’s education. So if you want your child to attend different schools, what rights do you have as a parent?

Much of where your child goes to school depends on where you live, if they are in public schools. However, with school of choice in Michigan, the home district doesn’t limit the choices parents have for their children. The existence of charter and private schools also expands educational choice for parents and their children.

That being said, there are often disagreements about education between parents. If you have a custody agreement, there may be some general direction about who makes the decisions about your child’s education. However, if you have joint custody, then you may need to go to court to get changes made to your child’s schooling. We’ll discuss the process and the pitfalls when it comes to changing your child’s school when you have joint custody in Michigan.

Changing Schools as the Custodial Parent in Michigan

If you are the custodial parent, then there is nothing stopping you from changing your child’s school. You are legally entitled to make the decisions that impact your child’s educational future. Of course, it is always a good idea to discuss this with your child’s other parent if they have some visitation rights, but ultimately the decision is yours. This is very different, however, in a situation where you have joint legal and physical custody of your child.

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Changing Schools With a Joint Custody Order

When you have joint physical and legal custody of your child or children, the process for changing schools is markedly different. It is always best to come to an agreement that both parents are comfortable with, however, sometimes that isn’t possible.

In some situations, one parent may favor a religious-based education while the other objects. In other cases, one parent may feel a charter school offers more specialized attention to students, but the other parent may feel otherwise. And, of course, any private education will incur costs. So how does this work?

Much like all decisions in child custody, the ‘best interest of the child’ is the legal standard. So it will take sound reasoning to argue your point about your child’s education. A skilled child custody attorney is always helpful in these scenarios. Even if you’re right, you could still end up not getting the outcome you want without legal assistance.

Impact of Changing Schools On Your Custody Agreement

If your child does change schools, certain other elements of your custody order may need to be amended as well. For example, if your child’s other parent, or you, are responsible for picking your child up from school, there might need to be a change depending on the distance the new school is from work or home. Additionally, if your child’s new school requires a tuition payment, this can impact the child support order if one exists.

If your child’s other parent is attempting to change schools and this would seriously impact your parental rights, it helps to find a child custody attorney that can help you navigate or even fight the changes if necessary.

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