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I have been divorced for almost 2 years and have joint/legal custody of my 4 1/2 year old daughter Madison. I am the primary parent of residence. On our divorce decree it states that we are to make medical, religion and school decisions together. I live in a better school district than him and I am primarily responsible for all picking up and dropping off. I do not want her in his school district but to attend mine. He will not budge. I have been forced to retain a family law attorney and with the attorney's help we are about to file a motion to get him to respond. Any advice?


Mike Mastracci Replied: At 4 1/2 years old, I will assume that we are not talking about September 2009, but 2010 at the earliest. While I am not sure what you mean by "filing a motion to get him to respond" but it is likely, or perhaps should be, a motion to change or modify joint legal custody. Generally, joint legal custody is reserved for parents who can make joint decisions and/or resolve situations between themselves when they do not agree. Also, when the order was signed, school was not likely an issue and now it is and so is the fact that you two can't make this very important decision together. If you need a judge to give one of you the final say, you need to demonstrate that you keep him in the loop on everything else and otherwise act in the spirit of joint custody and show instances where he has not. Additionally, the reasons for one school over the other should be based on what is best for Madison rather than just being more convenient for one or the other (although that too my be a benefit to the child depending on the facts). Have the two of you been to mediation. If not suggest that option. You have nothing to lose in doing that. You should also consider trying to use a collaboratively trained attorney. See for more information on that. Best of luck.
Posted On 2009-08-02 20:26:09
Rachel Russo Replied: Since your ex hasn't showed any signs of budging, you have done the right thing by getting the help of an attorney. Perhaps, this will show him how serious you are about your desire for your daughter to attend school in your district and motivate him to be willing to consider it. If you both want the best for your daughter, and you strongly feel you district is better, you may need some evidence to convince him such is the right decesion. Is there any literature on the quality of the schools that you can use to support your case? Where does Madison want to attend school? As parents, you should both realize the importance of taking her opinion into consideration. If she is on your side, you should tell your ex of her desires.
Posted On 2009-04-05 10:55:11
Rosalind Sedacca Replied: I am not clear about what you mean about "he will not budge." Do you need his permission to register your daughter in her first school? If you can prove your ex is not responding to your request for discussion on this topic, I imagine you can move ahead with your registration. Your attorney will know more re the legal requirements.

What I suggest as a child-centered divorce coach is that you write to your ex and explain why you are making this decision on behalf of your child and that you would like to discuss the decision with him. Tell him you value his input and want to make decisions togehter with him that affect your daughter's well-being. Keep the tone respectful and positive.

I hope the note gets him to respond so you can discuss the importance of your parenting together on important decisions affecting your child.

Best wishes to you.

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce
Posted On 2009-03-31 09:51:35
James Crist Replied: Co-parenting is often a very difficult process, especially when disagreements regarding important decisions such as school arise. I find that the most productive approach is to talk with your ex with an open mind and an interest in finding out what his concerns are. Have you provided him with information or statistics showing that your school district provides a better education? If not, ask him if he'd be willing to look such information over before deciding. Seeing a parent mediator might also be a good idea to help you through such decisions and would most likely be cheaper than going to court, though sometimes that is the only option. Ask your attorney of course, but I would think if your daughter lives primarily with you, she would have to attend your school district. You may want to check with the school system to see what their policy is. Most importantly, however, keep your daughter out of the midst of the conflict. If it comes up, you can say that you and her dad haven't figured out which school is best for her and that you will let her know once a decision is made.
Posted On 2009-03-29 19:53:41
Beverly Willett Replied: While I've been through a divorce myself and have some legal background, it's best to rely on your attorney's advice as far as legal matters are concerned. Obviously, coming to an agreement with your husband would be the best outcome, but it sounds like you've tried that already. Unfortunately, sometimes that's just not always possible. From what I know, what is in the best interest of the child is the paramount thing to keep in mind in framing your position. From what you say, it sounds like she will get better schooling in your district. If you are the one responsible for pick up and drop off, it sounds like she'll have a shorter commute to and from school; at that age, also probably a good thing for her. Since you have joint custody, what does the school board have to say about what school(s) your daughter is eligible to attend? If she lives with you most of the time (you say that you are the primary parent of residence but I'm not sure exactly what you mean by that), maybe she's only eligible to attend the school you want her to. Have you given them a call? If your child were much older, it might be appropriate, depending on the circumstances, for her to have some input; in this case I believe your child is too young for that. Therefore, try not to involve her or even talk about it around her until the decision is made as it could upset her unnecessarily. I'm sorry I have no magical answer for you; sometimes there is none. It sounds as if you're on the right track, and you may just have to go down this legal road. During the process, be as calm as you can. No matter what happens, remembering that you have your daughter's best interests at heart will see you through and help you adapt to whatever you need to. Good luck.
Posted On 2009-03-28 18:36:26
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