You’re going through divorce, trying to make everything work.

You’ve figured out custody and parent-time. You’ve decided on child support, alimony, and how to divide assets.

One question still nags at you: who decides where our kids will go to school after the divorce?

It’s an important question, and, like all important questions you ask an attorney, the answer is, “It depends.”

Here are some considerations to think about:

  1. The parent with the most parent-time usually decides where the kids will go to school.

This makes sense because when they kids go to school where they live most of the time, it’s easier on the kids. Less drive time, they go to school with their neighborhood friends, etc.

Now, this consideration breaks down the closer parents are to 50/50 parent-time. Of course, if parents share 50/50 parent-time, they usually live close to one another (within five miles is ideal), so school location is not a big issue.

  1. The parent with sole legal custody decides where the kids will go to school.

In Utah, there are two types of child custody: (1) physical custody, (2) legal custody.

Legal custody is about who makes big decisions regarding your kids. Decisions like: religion, medical care, extracurricular activities, money, schooling, etc.

Usually, parents share joint custody, so they have to talk with each other about big decisions and come to an agreement before moving forward with a decision.

Sometimes, though, one parent has sole legal custody. This allows that parent to make big decisions about schooling (e.g., which school to attend) without even talking with the other parent.

Another thing. Sometimes, parents share joint legal custody, but one parent is given authority to make a final decision if there’s a disagreement. This, like sole legal custody, allows the parent with the decision-making authority to decide where the kids attend school. The parents will need to talk through the options, but if there’s a disagreement, the decision-maker has final say.

  1. Where the kids attended school during the marriage often determines where they will attend school in the future.

Often, divorced parents will do everything they can to keep their kids stable. One way they do this is by making sure the kids stay in the same school they were attending when the parents were married.

After divorce, parents will try to find new houses and apartments in the same area to make maintain this stability.

When parents do this, the kids will often progress through their school districts and attend whatever feeder schools comes next, on through high school.

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