You may be well past the divorce stage and have a custody agreement. However, navigating life post-divorce and factoring in everything that may arise during a child’s life can be challenging. What happens if you need to decide something related to your child’s education or school activities? If you have a joint custody agreement, can you change your child’s school, for instance?
At Invictus Law, we know it’s not easy to adjust significant aspects of your child’s life with a custody agreement in place. How do you know what you can and can’t do for your child? Our legal team wants to help unravel some common questions parents have as they work through raising a child under a joint custody agreement.
Types of Custody Arrangements
Before you make educational decisions for your child, you need to understand the limitations of your custody agreement. The phrase “joint custody” can refer to several custodial situations. There is joint physical custody. Then there is joint legal custody. Physical custody refers to the child’s residence. In joint physical custody situations, a child typically divides their time between both parent’s homes.
Legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to make significant decisions on behalf of a child. In a joint legal custody situation, both parents decide on a child’s medical care, education, and religious upbringing.
Can I Change My Child’s School If I Have Joint Custody?
The decision to change schools falls under the umbrella of legal custody. If you have joint physical custody, but your former partner has sole legal custody, you cannot suddenly decide to change your child’s school. If you and your former spouse have joint legal custody of your child, you may have a say in where your child attends school. However, remember that your former partner also has a say in a joint legal custody arrangement.
Changing schools under a joint legal custody arrangement must be a decision both parents make together. Your first step should be prioritizing your child’s needs and communicating with your child’s other parent about the benefits of changing schools. Does the new district offer better educational opportunities? Are you moving and want your child to be in a school closer to your new home for easier pick-up and drop-off? Consider your child’s best interests and attempt to communicate why a change is necessary. Making a solid case for changing schools can help you and your former partner get on the same page.
Unfortunately, sometimes parents cannot agree on a mutually beneficial outcome. It may take a legal intervention if you are relocating or are determined to see your child in a new school. A family law attorney can help you navigate the situation and refer you to family mediation or request that the court modify your Virginia custody order.
If you have a joint legal custody order, do not unilaterally attempt to change your child’s school. Joint legal custody means both parents have a say in the child’s upbringing. You may jeopardize your situation and face legal consequences if significant life decisions are made without the other parent’s input if they have legal custody rights. Discuss your situation with a skilled child custody attorney who can help you evaluate your legal options without negatively impacting your child custody arrangement.
Talk to a Child Custody Lawyer Today
Co-parenting is difficult. It can be hard for former partners to agree on how to raise a child. If you need to make significant decisions on behalf of your child but find negotiating with your ex-partner challenging, discuss your situation with a knowledgeable child custody lawyer. At Invictus Law, we can help you understand your legal rights and outline your options for protecting yourself and your child.
Contact our Virginia Beach office today at 757-317-5125 to arrange a confidential legal consultation to review the specifics of your case.