For any parent, deciding on a particular school for your child can be a difficult and tedious decision. Parents take many things into account such as school rankings, extracurricular activities, school transportation, and the distance from home. For parents who share legal custody, the decision regarding school choice can be even more complex and conflicted if the parties do not agree. Court will take into account numerous factors and considerations when deciding on a school.
Legal vs. Physical Custody
Under Minnesota law, there are two different types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to the day-to-day care of a child and generally dictates where the child resides. However, the decision of school choice falls under legal custody. Legal custody relates to the right to make decisions about how the child will be raised. This may include topics such as healthcare, religion, and education. If parents have joint legal custody, the parents must agree on a school or bring the matter before the court.
Best-Interest of the Child
The courts ruling regarding school choice will be based on the best interest of the child. The problem arises when both parents have different ideas of what is in the best interest of their joint child. To decide on a child’s school, the judge will use a specific set of statutes to establish what is in best interest of a child. The statutes include topics such as:
- Child’s needs. Minnesota courts will assess how the school choice will affect the child’s physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, medical, educational, and other needs.
- Child’s preference. The court may take into consideration the child’s preference of schools if the judge determines the child has the ability and maturity to make an independent preference.
- Parental history. The judge will take into consideration any past domestic abuse or any parental physical, mental, or chemical health issues, which effect the child’s safety and developmental needs.
- Caring for Child. The history and nature of parental involvement will be carefully considered when assessing school choice. Courts will also look for a willingness of each parent to provide care in the best interest of the child.
- Relationship maintenance. The judge will take into consideration how the school choice would impact the child’s relationships with each parent, sibling and other prominent individuals in the child’s life.
Whether you are striving to change schools or would like to adhere to a previous choice regarding school, our family law attorneys can help. Our legal team has the necessary skill and experience to help you receive the best possible outcome to your matter. Contact our firm today at (763) 323-6555 or submit an online contact inquiry through our website.