Education is yet another hotly contested area of custody. It’s especially true of the high-conflict ex wishes to cause the “normal” parent additional financial burden in an effort to force them into bankruptcy or otherwise keep them destitute. It’s not really all that surprising when I see divorced people suddenly having a desire to send their children to private school at considerable expense. The person typically desiring that type of education is usually the one who will bear the least expense, if any at all, in order to have that happen.
In the usual “CP/NCP” situation, almost exclusively the children will go to school in the school district where the custodial parent resides. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the school is – that’s what happens.
In shared-parenting situations, where the custodial time is exactly equal at 50-50, the default still tends to be that the children go to school in the district where the mother resides. Why? For the purposes of child support payments, one parent is “designated” as the primary residential parent. Since fathers overwhelmingly are payors of child support, the children will go to school in the mother’s school district, regardless of the quality of the school system.
If you both live in the same school district – well, there is no issue.
When one parent wants to throw “private” school into the mix, a whole new bone of contention could rise to the surface. If your children have always been going to private school, oftentimes one’s ability to pay post-divorce doesn’t matter. The court will very likely order that the children continue going to the school that they’ve already been attending and you simply have to find a way to pay.
Some simple arguments against a parent trying to move children from public school into a private school are:
- You pay school taxes. It simply doesn’t make fiscal sense to pay for both public and private school because;
- Moving them now will upset what they’re familiar with, their friends, their activities, and they don’t need any more upheaval in a life which has already been up-ended by the divorce.
If you live in close proximity of one another but are in separate school districts (again, in a 50-50 custody arrangement), you will need to do all the research that you can regarding the differences between the schools and make a compelling argument for them to go to school in your district.
To do an initial comparison of schools in your areas, try visiting: School Matters.
This issue has a variety of different potential approaches, so please do share you specific circumstances with us, if it is an issue that exists in your situation, and see if we can uncover an approach that works best for you and the child.