In Texas, who has the power to make education-related decisions for a couple’s children will depend on the type of custody arrangement in place. If, for instance, two parents are granted a joint managing conservatorship, then both will likely have a say in where the child goes to school. If, on the other hand, one parent is designated as the sole managing conservator, then he or she will typically have sole control over the child’s schooling. For help determining who is responsible for making decisions about your own child’s education, please call one of our Texas child custody lawyers today.
Under Texas law, custody is divided into two basic categories: managing conservatorship and possessory custody. The former refers to a parent’s ability to make important decisions on behalf of a child about healthcare, education, and religion, while the latter determines how much time the child will actually spend with each parent. Courts generally presume that joint conservatorship, which gives both of a child’s parents the right to be involved in decision making, is in a child’s best interests. Even if one parent is given the exclusive right to decide where a child lives, the other parent will not necessarily be barred from having a say in a child’s education.
Ultimately, how much control a parent has over a child’s education will depend on the specific custody order in place. Courts are, for instance, allowed to allocate the specific rights and duties for decision making about certain issues between the parents. For instance, one parent may be given the sole right to decide where the child lives, but both could be granted the right to be involved in the process of making decisions about the child’s enrollment in school.
Collaborating on Decision Making
Unless limited by a court, joint conservatorship agreements usually give the child’s conservators the right to:
- Receive information from the child’s other parent about the child’s education;
- Confer with the other parent before making an education-related decision;
- Access to the child’s education records;
- Consult with school officials about the child’s welfare;
- Attend school activities; and
- Be designated as an emergency contact on the child’s records.
Collaboration is nearly unavoidable when both of a child’s parents are granted some or all of these rights. The method of that collaboration is also often dictated by the court (or by agreement between the parties) in a parenting plan.
Before finalizing a divorce or resolving a custody matter, Texas family law courts must first enter a parenting plan that includes details about the rights and duties of the parents. If, for instance, both parents are granted joint conservatorship and both are given a say in making education-related decisions, the parenting agreement will dictate how those decisions will be made. If it becomes clear, for instance, that two parents do not agree on an issue, the parenting plan may require the parties to engage in mediation, or work with a parenting facilitator or educational consultant.
It is only when these processes are not successful and collaboration is not possible, that the parties will need to file a petition with the court, where a judge will be tasked with determining what arrangement would be in a child’s best interests. These types of disputes have become increasingly common over the last year, with many parents disagreeing about whether their children should attend school in-person or engage in virtual schooling.
Are You Concerned About Your Child’s Education?
If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, or you are worried about your child’s education and are unable to reach an agreement with your child’s other parent, please call the dedicated Houston child custody lawyers at Hargrave Law, PC. You can reach a member of our legal team by calling 817-968-7191, or by completing one of our online intake forms.