The end of summer signifies many challenges and emotions for parents. Sending your child back to school often requires the purchase of school supplies, attendance at orientation and-for many parents today-potentially a court case regarding which school the child will attend.
Many divorce and juvenile custody cases are plagued with debate about which parent will remain the residential parent for school placement purposes. Although sometimes both parties remain in the same school district at the onset of a case, life circumstances often necessitate the relocation of one or both parents. In the second installment of our “Ask an Attorney” Series, we closely examine the most common client questions pertaining to co-parenting, school placement, and Ohio child custody matters.
What is a “residential parent for school placement purposes”? How is this decision made?When a divorce or dissolution involving children is finalized in the state of Ohio, a Shared Parenting Plan is filed. This document will outline, among other items, where the child will attend school. Both parents may be designated as residential parents for school placement as long as they live in the same school district. If parties reside in different school districts, an agreement on school placement may be reached through negotiation or, if an agreement cannot be reached, the court may decide where the child will attend school.
How does my custody order impact which parent will be school placement parent?If sole custody is granted to one party, the sole custodian will have authority over the child’s school placement. In a situation where shared parenting is either agreed upon or awarded by the court, a school placement parent must be designated.
What if my child attends a private school?Unless one party wishes to remove the child from a private school, school placement does not hold as much significance in the case as a public school scenario. However, should one or both parents wish to switch the child from private to public school, the factors listed below shall be taken into account when issuing a final decision.
If parties cannot agree on who should be the residential parents, what factors does the court take into account when issuing an order?There are several factors of varying significance that the court may use to make a final school placement decision. The quality of both potential school districts can weigh heavily on a decision. The Ohio Department of Education is a great tool for parents to compare school options and view ratings. The court will also take into account in which school district the child is currently enrolled, as well as the relationships the child has formed in his/her current school with teacher, peers and mentors. Additionally, the stability of a child’s home life will have impact on school placement.