Settling the private vs. public school debate when you and your co-parent can’t agree  

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2021 | Family Law

When parents have shared custody of their children after divorce, it’s crucial to reach some agreements on the big issues even if you’re going to see things differently on a host of smaller ones. One of these big issues is education.

Parents who can afford to send their children to private school choose to for various reasons. A private school may offer a better education, with smaller classes, more advanced facilities and a more challenging curriculum. Attending a private school can give kids a better chance at getting into a prestigious college. Many parents send their kids to schools affiliated with their church, synagogue or another place of worship.

Not all private schools are superior to their public counterparts. In some areas, local school districts have an excellent reputation.

Reasons why a parent may not want to pay for private school

Even if you and your spouse both planned to send your kids to private school when you were together, that might not be as easy to afford after divorce now that you’re maintaining separate homes. Even if it is, you (or your spouse) may decide they’re not going to pay for it – particularly if the other parent was the one who really wanted it.

If the two of you can decide on your own, without putting it in the hands of the judge, that’s the preferable way to do it. This requires putting your own feelings aside and focusing on what’s best for your children.

What happens if a judge has to decide?

If an agreement is just not possible, you will each need to make your case to the judge. One key factor will likely be how the cost will be divided. Only a judge can require your co-parent to help foot the bill for private school if they won’t do it voluntarily. They’ll look at your incomes, the child’s needs and other factors.

If the children are already in private school and one parent wants to transfer them to public school, that may be a different matter than if they haven’t begun school yet. If money isn’t an issue, a judge may believe it’s in their best interests to remain where they are. 

If you’re still in the process of divorcing, it’s best to settle the matter of education and associated expenses upfront. That way you won’t find yourselves battling over it and possibly back in court years later.