When you get divorced on Long Island, New York, you and your spouse will be faced with many decisions. One of those decisions will be what type of child custody arrangement you will enter into. While there are many types, the two most common are Joint Legal Custody and Joint Residential Custody, and both of these raise concerns when dealing with the child’s education.
What is Joint Legal Custody?
Joint Legal Custody is an arrangement you and your spouse may enter into that allows you both to play a role in all major decision making on behalf of the child. This may include issues involving the child’s health, religion and education. Naturally, you and your spouse may opt to include other decisions as “major decisions” in your Settlement or Separation Agreement.
What is Joint Residential Custody?
Joint Residential Custody simply allows both parents to have physical custody of the children on an equal basis.
How do These Arrangements Play a Role in My Child’s Education?
As a divorce lawyer on Long Island, New York, I have a great deal of experience explaining the implications both joint legal and joint residential custody may have when it comes time to consider your child’s education. When you enter into a joint legal custody arrangement with your spouse, it is important to be aware that you both will continue to have the legal right to access any and all of your child’s educational records.
According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, educational records are anything that is maintained by a school that is receiving federal funding which contains information that would allow you to directly identify the student. This means that both you and your ex-spouse will have access to any records maintained by the school concerning your child. While this is of concern to some parents, if you are considering entering into a joint legal custody arrangement, it is likely that you and your spouse have a somewhat amicable relationship and you would not object to him or her being involved in the child’s education.
On the other hand, joint residential custody prevents a greater barrier to a child’s education than joint legal custody. Under Section 3202 of New York’s Education Law, children “are entitled to attend school in the District where they reside” tuition free. To establish residence within a specific district, the student and/or parent must show that the student is physically present within the confines of the school district and has the intent to remain there. If your child does not reside within the boundaries of a specific school district, they still may be entitled to attend school but on the condition that tuition be paid. You may be wondering how this ties into your Long Island Divorce, but it plays a greater role than you may imagine. If you and your spouse elect a joint residential custody arrangement, your child technically resides in two homes, and may be two school districts. For educational purposes, a child can only have one residence. Therefore, if you and your spouse reside in different school districts, your child may not be a resident of either and you may be faced with a situation of having to pay tuition for an otherwise free public school education.
How Can I Avoid This Problem?
The easiest way to prevent barriers to your child’s education is to elect to enter into a joint legal custody arrangement, with only one parent having residential custody. This way, both parents will have access to the child’s school records but the child will have one residence for purposes of the school districts. Your Long Island divorce lawyer can guide you as to specific parenting time schedules to be placed in your stipulation of settlement or separation agreement so both parents are provided ample time with the child.
A second possible solution is to elect a joint physical custody arrangement, but declare one parent the residential parent for educational purposes. This way, both parents may be permitted to have the child on an equal basis, but the child will attend school in the district of the designated parent. If you decide to enter such an arrangement, keep in mind that a school district may not provide your child transportation outside of the district’s boundaries. Therefore, you and your spouse may opt to live close to one another so you can provide transportation if the district refuses.
While each divorce is different, the above are a few general points of consideration to think about when faced with decisions regarding child custody on Long Island and how that will affect your child’s education.
Questions About Child Custody and Visitation on Long Island?
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