Divorce and Your Child’s Education

All parents just want to do whatever they can to help their children live a happy and fulfilled life.  Parents do their best to provide emotional and physical support to their children.  Education always plays a key role in helping your child to reach their full potential.  During a happy relationship, parents may have difficulty reaching an agreement about what the best educational options are for their children.  When the parents divorce, they likely have even more issues about agreeing on the child’s schooling. If you are facing a divorce, you likely have questions about how your child’s education will be handled after the divorce is over.

In Minnesota, a judge will make a decision about legal custody during your divorce.  The parent with legal custody is the one who is responsible for making major life decisions, such as those related to non-emergency medical care, religion, and education.  In the vast majority of cases, parents are granted joint legal custody.  This means that the parents need to cooperate and communicate about these major decisions.  Neither parent will have “veto power” over the other with regard to issues that fall in these important categories.

Assuming you share joint legal custody with your former spouse, you will need to talk to him or her about educational issues and options.  In the optimal situation, the two of you will be able to come to an agreement on the best option.  However, if the two of you cannot agree, neither can unilaterally make a decision.  For example, if your former spouse wants to enroll your child in a new school but you do not agree, he or she cannot simply make the change to the new school over your objection.  Instead, he or she would need to file a motion with the court to ask for permission to change the child’s school.

For many, a child’s education extends past high school and goes through college or even beyond.  Unlike child support, a parent does not have the obligation to pay for a child’s college education.  That said, parents are free to come to an agreement that they will contribute to a child’s college costs.  If the parents make such an agreement and that agreement is incorporated into the divorce decree, that agreement can be enforced as a court order, including using the court’s contempt powers.

We have extensive experience helping our clients with issues of education before, during, and after divorce. Call us today at 651-413-9568 to talk about your case and your child.