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Child Custody & Choosing the Right School

One of the most important aspects of raising a child is deciding how to educate them.  As parents, you want to choose the best school district, research programs and credentials.  You want an education that will meet and exceed your child's needs.  If you are a divorced or separated parent, this decision still needs to be made together, but can obviously be complicated.  

In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, most often parents have shared legal custodial rights to their children, meaning that they both have the equal decision making power over major life choices for their child.  Education is one of those major choices.  

I often see parties come to me at The Law Office of Diana C. Schimmel, Equire, seeking help in getting the other party or the court to side with their educational choice.  This could be the difference between public versus private school or school district versus school district.  Ultimately, you want control over this decision and do not want a stranger (i.e. a judge) deciding for you.  So, it is important to be prepared to back up your chosen school.  Here are some tips to help:

1.  Have options.  If you want a different school than your child's other parent suggests, it is important not to just say "no" but to also give reasonable alternatives.  Have a list of schools or school districts ready.

2.  Do your research.  Do not just rely on the schools you have heard of in your area from other parents.  Actually find out about what these schools have to offer for yourself.  Go to their website, read educational blogs, call and speak to the principal.

3.  Know your child's needs.  If you know your child would thrive in a school with smaller classes, focus on those districts or programs.  Have real reasons that support why your child should go to the school you want.  It will not help if you know your child needs one-on-one attention but you are suggesting the largest public school in the area.  Find programs that are relevant and appropriate.

If you are struggling with an educational decision for your child and the other parent is adding to this fight, contact our office today for an initial consultation.  We can help you in the context of family law and support the important custodial decision.

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