Ryan Family Law, P.C.
Ryan Family Law, P.C.

Elgin, Illinois

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Which parent decides where a child will attend school?

The decisions that parents make can have a profound impact on the lived experience of children and teenagers. For example, the schools the children attend will determine both the caliber of their education and the social network that they have to rely on later in life.

Parents often spend quite some time carefully considering where they will live with their children to better ensure that the kids have access to the best schools. However, when unmarried parents separate or married parents divorce in Illinois, there may disagree about what will happen regarding a child’s education afterward.

Parents often share legal custody

Legal custody grants parents the authority to make certain decisions on behalf of the children. A parent has the authority to decide what health care children receive and also what school they attend. Separated parents usually shared that authority along with sharing parenting time. Ideally, both parents in a shared custody scenario will agree on what would be best for the children in the family.

Unfortunately, that is not always what happens. It is common for those who share legal custody to disagree and end up back in court. In theory, it is the address of the parents with primary custody of the children that determines what public school system they can attend, but many other factors, including a parent’s desire to send the children to private school, could lead to them going to a different school than the public school associated with their home address.

Parents may disagree about which school would present the best educational opportunities for their children, which may force them to take the matter back to family court. A judge can either make a determination on a specific issue based on what they believe would be in the best interests of the children or modify the existing custody order to clarify or alter the division of decision-making authority between parents.

Parents should try to prioritize the needs of the children

It is very easy for adults to become so embroiled in their own emotional responses to a shared parenting scenario that they stop thinking about what the children really need. A dispute about something like school enrollment could serve as a wake-up call that helps parents reevaluate their priorities and make their children the center of all of their major choices going forward.

Seeking legal guidance to better understand the rules that apply to shared parenting scenarios may make it easier for parents to settle a disagreement about what they should do with regard to their children’s education.


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