Switching Schools for Children in Joint Custody

Close up on school bus in the parking lotDivorce can be hard enough on children. Switching schools to accommodate one parent’s new living situation can make it even more difficult. Maryland courts tend to limit changes to a child’s day-to-day routine to maintain stability. If the child is legitimately better served by attending a different school, however, parents with Joint Legal Custody over the child can change the custody arrangement to switch schools.

Joint Legal Custody and Parenting Plans

Joint legal custody means that one parent cannot make major decisions without the consent of the other. Unless one parent has sole legal custody of the child, both parents must agree on decisions affecting the child. That includes where the child will attend school and other decisions such as medical decisions and religious affiliations.
Typically, custody agreements and/or parenting plans between spouses with joint legal custody include a previously agreed upon method for resolving conflicts. If you have one of these agreements in place consult these documents for details on how to handle your specific situation. If the agreement does not address school enrollment or needs to be changed see Modifying Child Custody Agreements in Maryland.

Mediation and Court Challenges

Some familial situations are more complicated and require mediation or court challenges. For example, in cases where the parents were never married and there is no custody order at all, both parents have equal rights to decide where to send the child to school. The same is true in cases where one parent has sole legal custody and the other disagrees. In some joint legal custody orders one parent has the authority to overrule the other parent in the event of a disagreement.
If you and your co-parent cannot agree on the child’s schooling, you may need to go to mediation. If mediation does not resolve the dispute, one parent can make the decision and the other parent can challenge the decision in court. Maryland courts typically prioritize the well-being of the child above the needs of the parents. While all cases are subject to unique circumstances, the parents’ logistical challenges are generally not a strong argument for switching schools. The parent requesting the school change must show that it is in the child’s best interest to switch to a new school.

How Can I Switch My Child’s School in My Child Custody Agreement?

To learn about child custody agreements in Maryland or make changes to an existing agreement, give us a call at Lebovitz Law. We have years of experience negotiating the best deals for our clients, whether it’s family law or property law. Contact us today at (410) 828-0680.