When a couple separates from a relationship or undergoes a divorce where a child custody case is involved in Minnesota, the parents must agree with a mutual school choice or have the decision settled in court. Minnesota’s laws list different factors that relate to how the school location is decided for the child in family court if the parents cannot mutually agree.
The Important Distinction Between Physical and Legal Custody
Most child custody cases after a divorce or break up in Minnesota allow the parents to have joint legal custody. Hence, each parent has equal rights in making legal decisions concerning their child.
While the custodial parent has more physical custody than the non-custodial parent, the custodial parent must allow them to have a say in child-raising methods. Hence, involving the non-custodial parent in choosing schools is an essential part of the legal custody aspect of the joint legal custody arrangement.
As long as neither parent has a history of domestic abuse or harmful behaviors that impede the child’s safety, they are capable of making school placement decisions for the child.
How School Choice is Decided in Minnesota Family Court
The family court judge will base the final school decision on several factors that relate to the child’s best interest. The factors the judge considers include:
- The parents can maintain equitable parenting time no matter the school choice location. If both parents can be civil in raising their children, school choice may be as close to their homes as possible.
- If there is a child abuse history with one parent, then the school choice may be closer to the other parent who has not exhibited this behavior.
- Changes in friend groups and relationships with mentors and teachers that could be uprooted due to school relocation are considered.
- The history of which parent provides physical care to the child is essential for the final decree.
Determining the Best Interest of the Child
Of course, the best interest of the child is the most important factor when finalizing school choice in Minnesota during a divorce. Cornell Law School mentions that considering their mental health, financial status, and the quality of their parental abilities is essential when determining their best interest.
If the child is in grade or middle school with the maturity to show their school preference, the judge will consider this. Ensuring the child’s physical, mental, and other essential needs are met is vital when making a final decision on school location.
The State of Minnesota Values Non-Custodial Parental Involvement
According to Minnesota law statute 120A.22 subdivision 1a, the noncustodial parent has the right to have access to the child’s school records and to attend parent conferences to learn how he or she is performing in their educational endeavors. Hence, the state of Minnesota values non-custodial parental involvement as children learn and grow.
Even if the custodial parent does not agree to the non-custodial parent having access to this information, it is a legal statute the custodial parent must uphold if the courts allow it. The only way that a noncustodial parent could not have access to school records is if a court order states this factor.
Choose the Best School Choice for Your Child in Minnesota Today
Deciding on a school location can be difficult if parents cannot agree mutually without court involvement. In the event of disagreement, petitioning the courts can solve the dispute peacefully.
Contact CJB Law today for legal guidance in your child custody case related to school choice. Mitigate the stress of representing yourself in the child custody case by reaching out to one of our trained lawyers for assistance in your case.