child custody joint legal physical children school change

Have you been thinking of changing your child’s school? With all schools closed for the time being due to the impact of COVID-19, and some states, including California, stating they may remain closed until the near year begins in September, now is a good time to begin the process of changing schools.

This is especially true if you have joint legal custody of your child.

Despite the reasons for changing your child’s school—which could be anything from moving to a new district, city or state, better quality education, better learning environments, or unresolved bullying—legal custody is required. In addition, the process for parents with joint legal custody isn’t as streamlined as it is for parents with full legal and physical custody.

Having joint legal custody means both parents must agree to the change of schools. Joint physical custody may also become a factor, as the child could potentially be eligible to attend schools in different districts, and each parent may believe their district is better for the child’s well-being.

Before beginning the process, check your custody agreement to fully understand what rights you have. If you share legal custody, you will first need to file a Request for Order with the court, which will include a statement of substantial and material change of circumstances that affect the child’s best interest.

Once filed, the parents will be ordered to mediation to come to an agreement. In most cases, this is all that will be needed, as the parents work out their differences. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the mediator will send a recommendation to the judge, who will then decide which school the child will attend.

The courts will treat a change in a child’s school the same as it would any other custody request: whatever is in the best interest of the child. This includes taking into account how long the child has attended their current school; how well the child is doing in their studies; which parent has custody of the child the most; what days the parent has the child; which school has a better curriculum and learning environment; how long it will take to get to and from school; any special needs the child has; and extracurricular activities the child is involved in. The list could go on.

If you have a valid reason for wanting to change your child’s school and need help resolving a joint custody arrangement, please call King Law Firm attorneys At Law Inc. We may help get the process started so that when schools finally open again, your child will have a fresh start at their new school.

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