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When Parents Cannot Agree on Their Child’s Education


Dissolving a marriage can raise a host of complicated issues for parents when it comes to raising their children in post-divorce life. For instance, in one recent case, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal was asked to resolve a disagreement between two parents with shared parenting responsibilities who could not agree on where their children should go to school. These types of disagreements are not uncommon, even amongst couples with relatively amicable relationships, so if you and your former spouse cannot come to an agreement on your child’s education, religion, extracurricular activities, or another important issue, it is important to contact an experienced shared parental responsibility attorney who can explain your legal rights and options.

Education-Related Disagreements  

In a case that was recently filed with the Third District Court of Appeal in Florida, two parents were unable to come to an agreement on where their children should attend school, with the father wanting the children to go to a private Christian school and the mother disagreeing. Although the father committed to paying all of the costs associated with sending the children to a private school, the child’s mother believed that they should continue to attend the same public school. During this time, and without the mother’s consent, the children’s father took the children to a private school where they took an entrance eligibility exam.

The children’s mother later filed a Motion for Contempt, alleging that her former spouse’s actions violated their shared parenting agreement. The children’s father responded by asking the court to authorize the enrollment of the children at the private school and stating that his former spouse refused to engage in further discussions about the child’s potential attendance at a private school.

The Trial Court’s Decision  

In response to the parents’ motions, the trial court applied the best interests of the child standard and determined that it would be in the best interests of the children to attend private school. In issuing the order, the trial court also required the mother to fully cooperate when it came to submitting applications to the private school in question and to fully support enrollment if accepted. The children’s mother then filed an appeal of the trial court’s decision with the Third District Court of Appeal.

Appellate Review  

During its review of the trial court’s decision, the appellate court clarified that when parents with shared parenting responsibilities cannot come to an agreement about the raising of their children, trial courts must step in and come to a decision regarding the children’s welfare by applying the best interests of the child standard. Eventually, the appeals court determined that the trial court used its discretion appropriately and that the father’s failure to obtain the mother’s consent to the children taking an entrance eligibility examination didn’t violate their shared parental responsibility agreement. The court also differentiated this action from a case where a mother unilaterally enrolled her child in a school without the other parent’s consent, which is considered a violation of this shared responsibility.

Call Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

To speak with dedicated shared parental responsibility lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale about your own case, please call 954-945-7591 or send us an online message today.

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