How Joint Custody Parents Decide Where to Send Children to School or Church

If you and your co-parent share joint legal custody of your children in Ohio, you must decide which school your child will attend. If you and your co-parent agree what school your child should attend, you can simply enroll your child in the agreed-upon school without any involvement from family court. If you and your co-parent cannot agree on what school to enroll your child, however, you can try mediation, where you may be able to discuss and agree on a solution. If mediation does not help the two of you reach an agreement, you will have to consult with the courts.

School

Several cases have wrestled with the issue of which rights each co-parent has concerning where to send children to school. In Madison v. Davis, the California Supreme court addressed the rights of divorced parents when their child enters school. The Madison case involved the rights of the two divorced co-parents and their pre-school aged child.

The father in the case argued that under Beck v. Beck, the non-custodial parent has the right to make decisions regarding the child’s wellbeing. Meanwhile, the mother in the case argued that under Pascale v. Pascale, the parent of primary residence holds more authority in making decisions regarding the child. The Madison v. Davis case ultimately ruled that when pre-school is being used as daycare, the primary residential parent has the initial right to select a pre-school program. The parent, however, must make a “reasonable” choice that factors in considerations, such as location and cost.

While some parents might think that choosing where a child attends pre-school is a small issue, there is a strong possibility that the court will want to keep your child in the same location where he or she will eventually be attending kindergarten to maintain stability.

Church

There are multiple methods used to decide where to send your children to religious services. Courts often attempt to balance competing parental concerns about the child’s religious upbringing. While courts must protect an individual parent’s right to the free exercise of religion, courts must ultimately ensure that the best interests of the child are protected.

The Supreme Court has not yet articulated its opinion on religious upbringing and shared custody. With no uniform national law in place, states apply a variety of legal tests. The three most common tests applied by state courts are:

  • Whether restricting a parent’s religious practices will cause “actual or substantial” harm to the child,
  • If restricting a parent’s religious practices “might harm” the child in the future, and
  • If the custodial parent objects to the noncustodial parent’s religious activities.

When the parents of minor children divorce, custody of the children becomes a major issue.  Then, there are thousands of additional minute issues on which parents might disagree. That is why it is critical to have the assistance of an experienced family law attorney like the family law attorneys at the Lawrence Law Office. For a free consultation, please feel free to contact us today at (614) 228-3664.

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