Back to main FAQs
Who Gets to Pick The Children's School, in a Minnesota Divorce or Child Custody Case?
A common problem for many families is a dispute over where the minor child(ren) will attend school. If you have sole legal custody, you may decide this on your own. But if like most parents you have joint legal custody, then the choice of school is something that must be agreed upon, or otherwise submitted to the Court or Alternative Dispute Resolution for a determination.
In cases where the children are already attending a particular school, the likelihood is that they will continue to attend that school, unless one makes a compelling case that continued attendance at that school would be contrary to the children’s best interests for some reason.
In cases where the child is approaching the start of kindergarten, or will be transitioning to middle school, junior high, or high school, this can be a closer call. Obviously the quality of the school will matter. Fortunately school statistics are readily available, including standardized test scores. The Minnesota Department of Education provides School Report Cards on their website.
Other factors will vary in importance depending on the case, but can include the commuting time from each parent’s residence to the school, the child’s preference, the tuition cost (where private school is being considered), sports, and continuity of social relationships.
If you anticipate a dispute over the choice of school, it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to plan how best to handle it. (So if school starts in September, call a lawyer in January if you know that early that there is going to be an issue).