In Arizona, custody cases are decided based on what’s in the best interests of the child, and in most cases that means shared custody so that the child has equal opportunity to maintain relationships with both parents. As a result, co-parents must make decisions together, which can cause conflict when making major decisions such as what school the child will attend. When making decisions about your child’s school, it’s important to know the basics about school decisions and shared custody, and the impact it can have.
Sometimes you may have shared parenting time, but one parent may have sole custody. The parenting plan will dictate whether the decision-making parent still needs to discuss big decisions like school choice with the other parent, but ultimately, if you have legal decision-making rights, it’s your choice where your child goes to school.
Joint Decision-Making with Final Say
Sometimes in Arizona parents will be given joint decision-making rights, but one parent will have the final say, like a tie-breaker vote if both parents cannot agree. If you have final say in education decisions, you will still probably need to discuss it with your co-parent first. To avoid the possibility of going back to court, you should still make a good faith effort to come to a shared decision. If you are unable to come to a mutual agreement, however, you can use your final say to make the decision.
Shared Decision Making
Shared legal decision-making is the more common scenario, and the one most likely to cause conflict, since both parents have to come to an agreement. If the child is already enrolled in school, this may be an easy decision, but if one parent moves away from the neighborhood or if the child is struggling due to the current school environment, school choice may become a more heated debate between the parents.
What Happens If You Can’t Agree?
If you and your co-parent have shared decision making and you can’t come to a mutual decision, the next step is mediation. Mediation is not the same as taking your case to court, and may help you avoid a court battle by allowing a neutral third party help you find a compromise. If you are still unable to come to an agreement, Arizona family court can make a decision or assign a parent final say in the decision.
When Should You Get a Lawyer?
If you and your co-parent are having a difficult time coming to an agreement about school choice, it might be time to consult a family law attorney for help moving forward. Getting an attorney doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to court. An experienced child custody attorney will help you navigate each step of the process until you’re able to come to a decision. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact the Simon Law Group today.