Ask a Lawyer: Who decides where my kids go to school?

Question: My daughter is in the first grade, and attends a private school.  I have concerns about this school from unqualified teachers to racism.  Do I have to continue paying for this school, if I disagree with it? I signed her up for another school that was better by every measure, but my ex shot it down. Are my objections not to be figured into this parenting decision?



Answer: You should refer to your Parenting Plan or the Order concerning the custody and placement of your daughter.  You should carefully review the documents and look for provisions which dictate where your child will attend school.  In addition, you should review the provisions relating to the responsibility to pay for school tuition.

As to the decision of where your daughter goes to school, this is a legal custody decision so the determination of who gets to decide depends on the custody arrangements in the Order.  If your ex has sole custody, then she alone makes the decision regarding where your daughter goes to school.  If you have sole custody, then you make the decision.  However, if you have joint custody, it is a joint decision and neither of you can shoot the other person down. 

If you have joint custody and you cannot come to an agreement you can seek relief from the court to decide the issue.  You should review the terms of your Parenting Plan or the Order for provisions which dictate what you are to do if you disagree.  You may be required to mediate the issue prior to filing a motion with the court. 

You should contact a domestic litigations attorney to review the custody provisions of your Order and determine whether or not a motion should be filed. Cordell & Cordell recently opened an office in Milwaukee.  Make sure you bring your parenting plan or the Order with you.  


Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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