What happens if parents cannot agree where children go to school?

Whether a child is going to be entering kindergarten or finishing middle school and is about to begin high school, parents have to weigh many factors when it comes to where their child goes to school.  Depending where families live the choice can involve comparing and contrasting the pros and cons of private schools, charter school, magnet school and public schools which offer different class sizes and sports programs.  School choice can sometimes come down to which school is closer to a particular parent.

Parents with joint legal custody have equal say in where their child is going to attend school.  Joint legal custody entails parents working together before the next school year to look at possible schools, go on tours to look at the school and to talk with teachers and school staff to get a feel of what that school would offer their child.  Joint legal custody requires both parents to work together and to decide which school is best and to enroll their child at the school of their choice.

For parents who cannot decide on the appropriate school, litigation may be necessary but it is not the first choice.  Mediation is a voluntary option in working toward an agreement.  Mediation may be required if there is a prior family court Order requiring it when there are disputes between the parents.  The parents would meet with a neutral third person to hopefully agree where their child is going to attend school.

If mediation is unsuccessful or the parties forego mediation, a Motion must be filed in district court for a judge to make this decision.  The judge has to weigh the 12 best interest factors when coming to his or her decision.  Those factors are found though this link – https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=518.17.  A judge could order a trial on this issue which not all parents find is the best way to decide this issue.  Judges really struggle with making such a personal decision for families.

Contact experienced family law attorney Jessica L. Sterle at (218) 722-2655 if you have questions about school choice between parents.

Jessica Sterle