Joint Legal Custody and School Choice

What happens when you have joint legal custody and you disagree with your ex about where your child(ren) should attend school?  Legal custody is the right to determine the child(ren)’s upbringing including education.  Having joint legal custody means that the parties have equal rights and responsibilities to participate in the major decision making regarding the child(ren)’s education.  If you have joint legal custody this means that any changes regarding a child(ren)’s schooling need to be agreed upon by both parties.

Often disputes arise when it is time to enroll a child in Kindergarten or when one parent moves and neither party resides within the school district that the child(ren) were attending.  If both parents are unable to agree, then a motion must be filed in District Court to have a judicial officer make the decision.

The Court of Appeals has held that, in Minnesota, the District Court is to consider the best interests of the child found in Minnesota Statute §518.17.  Since these factors pertain mostly to custody determinations, the District Court is also permitted to consider other factors that they deem relevant.  The District Court cannot simply chose the school choice of the parent with sole physical custody without making a determination that it is in the best interest of the child.  In the situation where one parent has sole physical custody, the sole physical custodian does not have the power to unilaterally decide where the child(ren) should attend school.  The Minnesota child custody attorney’s at Butler & Allen P.A. will help you gather the necessary and relevant information to assist the District Court in making the appropriate decision for your child(ren).

Our family law attorneys at Butler & Allen P.A. are experienced in litigating issues of school choice in District Court and appealing school choice decisions to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  If you are experiencing a school choice disagreement, call our office for a consultation.