Who Gets to Decide Where The Kids Go To School?

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When two people share a child but are separated and not raising that child together, many issues can come up when it comes to important decisions for the child. For example, when the child begins school or transitions to a new school, someone will need to determine what school the child should attend.

Who Decides Where the Kids Go To School?

The determination of where a child should go to school is generally made by the parent who has legal custody of the child. Legal custody is different than physical custody. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and spends his time, while legal custody refers to who has the authority to make key decisions for the kids.  Your custody agreement should spell out exactly who has legal custody of the kids.

In some cases, both the parents will have legal custody of the children. When this is the case, then both of the parents have the right to a say in decisions about where the children should attend school.  The parents will need to come to an agreement together in order to determine where the child should attend.

What if the Parents are Unable to Agree?

If both parents are unable to agree on where a child should attend school, it will be important to first determine if both have legal custody. If only one parent has legal custody, then that parent will get to make the decision regardless of what the other wants.

If the parent without legal custody wants to have a say in this choice and/or believes that the wrong choice is being made, that parent would need to petition the court. The parent could argue for a change in the custody agreement to give him/her more legal authority over the child.

Typically, there would need to be a very good reason to change the arrangement regarding who has legal custody. A change in circumstances might justify the court making a change, as would proving that the parent who currently has legal custody is not acting in the best interests of the child.

If both parents have legal custody and are not able to agree on where a child should go to school, then a motion to the court would also have to be made. Under these circumstances, the court could appoint an expert to evaluate the situation and to make a determination regarding what is in the best interests of the child.

While this can resolve the problem, it can be a costly and adversarial way to make a decision and parents may wish to pursue alternatives such as mediation before turning to the court to resolve the question of where a child should go to school.

When you have a child, you are responsible for paying for the support of that child. This is true regardless of whether you are married to the child’s other parent and regardless of whether or not you have custody or visitation rights to the child. It is considered to be a fundamental right that a child is supported by both parents, and the right to child support cannot be waived in a premarital agreement.

How Much Do I Have to Pay?

When a couple who has a child separates and is not raising a child together, a decision must be made regarding who has to pay child support and how much must be paid. The State of California dictates exactly how much the paying parent will be required to pay. Any deviation from the standard formulas would need to be justified and shown to be in the best interests of the child.

  • The formula used to determine how much you must pay in child support will take into account: Your income and your earning potential. Generally, courts will look at your actual income. However, if there is evidence that you are purposely not earning money in order to avoid child support obligations, then the court may consider your earning potential as well.
  • The amount of income that the other parent earns. Both parents are expected to contribute to providing for the child. Generally, the rule is that each parent contributes a percentage of support equal to the percentage of the income he earns. For example, if you earned 60 percent of the total combined income from both parents, then you would be responsible for 60 percent of the total support of the child.
  • The number of children that you have. If you have more kids, you are expected to pay more in support.
  • The amount of time that you have custody of your children. It is assumed that you provide care for your kids while they are under your custody and you thus can have your child support obligation reduced if you have the kids in your custody a lot.
  • Unique needs of the child. If a child has health issues, for example, then you may be expected to pay for a larger amount of child support in order to cover extra medical expenses.

All of these factors are used to assess the amount you must pay. Once the court has ordered you to pay child support, you are required to pay the designated amounts. Typically, automatic withdrawals are set up and the money is taken automatically from your paycheck before the money is paid out to you.  If your circumstances change and you are no longer able to pay as required, then you will need to petition the court for a change.

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