Choosing a school for your child is an often disputed co-parenting issue family law attorneys encounter. This post identifies many of the relevant factors when this dispute happens.
In a typical custody dispute, custody decisions, including choosing a school for the child, are decided based on the child’s best interests. According to Minnesota law, a court must evaluate all relevant factors, including some specific factors listed in the Statute. These include:
- A child’s physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and other needs.
- Any special medical needs, mental health needs, or educational needs that the child may have.
- The reasonable preference of the child (if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age and ability).
- Whether domestic abuse has occurred in the parents’ household or relationship and how the child’s safety would be impacted.
- Any physical, mental, or chemical health issues of a parent.
- The history and nature of each parent’s participation in providing care for the child.
- The willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child including maintaining consistency with parenting time.
- The effect of changes to home, school, and community on the child’s well-being and development.
- The effect of the proposed arrangements on the ongoing relationships between the child and each parent and any siblings of the child.
- The benefit/detriment to the child in maximizing/limiting parenting time with both parents.
- The disposition of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent and to encourage and permit continuing contact with the child.
- The willingness and ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of their child together.
The court should make detailed findings on each of the above-listed factors and go into specifics about why they are deciding in favor of one parent. The court may also analyze factors outside of the statute, like one party’s ties to the community of a school district, or the distance between the proposed school and each parents’ house. Any relevant factors that the court considers will most often tie back to the best interests of a child and the factors in the Statute. For example, the distance between the school and each parents’ house could affect parenting time or the ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child since one parent might have a shorter drive to the school than the other.