Educating Kids and Custody: School-Zone Assignments

Written by Jonathan Breeden

When parents live apart, your child’s education and school section can get complicated. Ideally, they will work together to ensure their child receives the best education possible with the least stress for everyone involved. If the parents agree and they live in the same district, it cuts down on conflicts. But that’s not always the case.

Jonathan Breeden has helped families resolve custody issues in Johnston, Wake, and Harnett County for more than 20 years. And one common question we hear from separated or divorced parents is: How are decisions about school zone assignments made when parents live in different districts?

If you have questions or are dealing with a custody problem concerning your child’s education, call the Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970.

Where Does the Parent With Legal Custody Live?

The school your child attends may be significantly influenced by where the parent with legal custody resides. If both parents share legal custody, they must jointly make important decisions like where their child will go to school.

If you can’t resolve differences about which school a child should attend, the issue could be litigated, and a judge would decide. That outcome will be based on the judge’s belief that attending one school, not the other, is in your child’s best interests.

The location of the best school for your child may influence the judge’s decision on who should have primary custody. A shorter trip to school would be preferred. If the child has a strong network of friends at one school but not the other, keeping those connections could also be seen as necessary.

If the schools at issue are in the same district, their resources should be equivalent. But if your child has a particular need due to a learning disability or your child is considered gifted, and one school does a better job at it than the other, that could sway a judge’s decision.

Parents in Different Districts Need To Work Together

A divorce is stressful enough for a child. If he or she is doing well in school, a judge probably won’t make any changes. This may result in the parent with primary custody in one school district and the other parent living outside.

Assuming both parents share legal custody, they should be able to pick up and drop off their child, have access to school information and records.

The parent outside the district needs to know the school calendar – which should be online – to know which days are off or end early. The child can only ride a bus within the school district. Transportation needs to be worked out between the parents and the school if the parent outside the district will pick the child up.

Communication between the parents and school is crucial. As long as legal custody is shared, all information should go to both parents. They both should have the opportunity to be engaged in their child’s education, whether or not one lives outside the school district.

Contact Breeden Law Office Today

Attorney Jonathan Breeden is dedicated to helping individuals and families facing family law issues. With more than two decades of experience and local offices in Raleigh, Garner, Angier, and Smithfield, call Jonathan at (919) 661-4970 if you need assistance with a child custody matter. He’s ready to listen and discuss how he can help you and your family.


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A book by Jonathan Breeden