31 Jan 3 Ways to Quash that Parental Disagreement with Your Child’s Other Parent
Joint Legal Custody & Parental Disagreement
We recently received a question from a Floridian mother who could not agree with the father of the children as to whether (or not) they should send their children to public or private schools. The children were offered a scholarship to a local private school and the mother wants them to attend. The mother wants to know whether she can move the children to the private school without his permission.
This is an excellent and fairly common question. Surprise – ex-spouses do not always agree on parenting issues!
The parenting plan that was entered into during the course of their Florida Divorce is where we look for guidance in making the decision as to whether she “can” just change their schools, in spite of the disagreement. In general, Florida Parenting Plans contain what can be divided into subparts, those matters concerning physical custody (or time-sharing) and those that concern legal custody (or decision-making capabilities). Let’s say (for the sake of discussion) that in this case, as is fairly common, the parents have what is referred to as “joint legal custody” with regards to the major life events, such as medical, religious and educational decisions. This would mean, of course, that the father would also have a say in whether or not the children should be enrolled in the private school. So what now? Well, the mother has a few different options.
Option 1: “Coffee Table Discussion”
The mother sits down at a coffee table together with the father, can write down a list of pros and cons, and they see why other parent reached the decision that they did. If the parents can address the underlying issue, they may be in a better position to solve the matter.
Option 2: “Mediation”
The parents can enlist the help of an objective third party, such as a mediator, family friend or attorney who may help them resolve the dispute without court intervention.
Option 3: “Family Court”
As a last resort, if the parents decide to take the matter to court, the mother is probably going to want to file a supplemental petition for modification of the parenting plan so as to obtain full legal custodial rights as to the making of educational decisions. The full legal right as to all education decisions may be a bit severe, but potentially worth asking for from the court if the mother is afraid that this may be an ongoing issue with regards to educational matters. The mother may also ask the Court for a more limited modification as to where the children should attend elementary schools. In the set hearing on this petition, the court will take evidence as to the best interest of the child on the issues.