Governor DeWine recently announced his intention to open schools for the fall, even though there is some evidence that COVID-19 could still be a threat to students and staff at that time. This may mean parents of young children will need to decide whether they intend to send their children back into an environment that may make them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. For parents who generally agree and support one another’s decisions, this issue may require deep conversations and compromise. For parents who may be divorced or separated, making such determinations may be challenging.
Allocation of Responsibility for School Decisions
When parents of a minor child divorce or separate, a court is called upon to enter various orders pertaining to the care and custody of the child. This includes entering orders dictating how parents are to make important decisions concerning their child’s welfare, including decisions concerning the education of the child. The court may permit:
- One parent to make decisions regarding the child’s education unilaterally (that is, by themselves). In this arrangement, one parent makes all decisions concerning how and where the child will be educated. The other parent need not be consulted first and does not have any authority to override the other’s decisions. This sort of arrangement is not favored, and a court will usually only order such an arrangement if one parent has proven themselves incapable of making good educational decisions on behalf of the child.
- Both parents to have an equal say in educational decisions. This arrangement is also not often ordered because it gives either parent the ability to check or nullify the decisions of the other. However, parents who have a demonstrated history of working together or who believe it is important to share in making important decisions may find this arrangement desirable.
- One parent to be designated as the “final voice” on educational decisions for the child while requiring that the other parent’s views be considered. This is the most common arrangement adopted by courts. In most every case where this arrangement is ordered, the parent with whom the child primarily resides will be given the authority to make educational decisions that affect the child. The other parent’s thoughts and opinions are to be considered, though, and that other parent may bring issues to the attention of the court if that other parent feels the decisions being made are not in their child’s best interest.
What To Do If You Disagree with Educational Decisions
If you are not the parent empowered to make educational decisions on behalf of your child, you are not necessarily left without a voice. You may be able to file a motion with the court and ask the court to intervene if the decisions being made by the other parent are not in the child’s best interests. For example, continuing to enroll a child at a school where the child is mercilessly bullied may not be in the child’s best interests. Nor may it be in the child’s best interests to attend a school in the fall that has not taken appropriate precautions to safeguard children and adults from COVID-19.
Contact Dawes Legal, LLC Today for Help
Family law legal matters can be deceptively complicated. It is recommended that you discuss your situation with an experienced and knowledgeable Ohio family law attorney like those at Dawes Legal, LLC. Our firm has assisted numerous Ohio parents participate meaningfully in the important decisions of their children’s lives. Call our office at (614) 733-9999 today and schedule a consultation with our team to go over your situation and options.