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Noncustodial father just learned that mother is moving 35 miles away and enrolling child in private school - what should he do?

Your Question:
1. I bought a house near where my eX lives so I could be closer to our SON.

2. Our Son will be entering Kindergarten this fall, and my house is very close to the Elementary School. (I can ride my bike there)

3. I just found out that my eX is sending our son to a private school 30 miles north and in a different County.

4. My eX just bought a house and is moving 35 Miles north of here to a different County.

Is there anyway way to allow my son attend the public school so he can be closer to me?

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My Answer:

I asked you a number of other questions, and you responded with additional information. You added:

  • You bought your current house 2 months ago.

  • The private school is probably a better school than the public one.

  • There are no court orders on education decisions and no court orders on move-aways or any moving distance restrictions between parents.

  • You spend every alternating weekend and one weekday afternoon with your child.

Unfortunately, I don't see much good news for you. You're either going have to lump it, or take it back to court for a major fight.

Your argument should not come from "attend public school so he can be closer to me". The court doesn't care about you, it cares about what's best for the child. So frame your arguments around WHY it's best for the child.

I think you're going to have to argue why it's in your son's best interest not to move to the mother's new home, and instead live in your home primarily and go to the school near you. Biking distance is irrelevant. It's not a strong argument. You have a major burden here, and it may be that you can't do it.

Also, I think you're even more challenged (perhaps impossibly so) in your argument if the child actually moves with mom before you can get a court hearing on the matter. So you may want to consult with an attorney on seeing if you can immediately block a move until the court can hear the issues, because the mother has elected to put 35 miles between homes, which may not work for the child with your current custodial arrangement (e.g., for your 3 hour weekday, the child has to sit in the car for 45 minutes each way).

Because there are no orders on education, the court is going to make some decision about the matter. In what I've observed in various cases, the parent with majority timeshare usually prevails on such decision; and you yourself are quietly admitting that the private school may offer better quality of education (I'm not saying that it's the right choice, but rather just looking at that one fact). And, though move-away issues vary from state to state, you may find it extremely difficult to convince the court to tell the majority-timeshare mother, "I don't care if you bought a house. You can't take the kid with you."

However, you may have a decent shot to convince the court that the mother should bear the entire expense of private school. This is exactly what happened with me. I was very impressed by the public school available to my daughter (one of the highest ranked public schools in the state), but her mother insisted on private school. The judge ultimately let the mother pick, but also ordered that she's responsible for all school costs (i.e., no costs if public, or mega-bucks if private).

Now... on to the move-away part and being 35 miles away. I would view this as a great opportunity for you, rather than a burden. If you are a good parent, have no major skeletons, haven't annoyed your judge in the past; then you may find yourself with an increase in custodial timeshare if you play it right.

Obviously, the 3 hour Tuesdays ain't going to work for your child. Too short of a time, with too much distance betweeen homes. I would argue that it's reasonable, due to the mother's unilateral choice to put 35 miles between the homes only 2 months after you took a major expense to move closer, that you should drop the Tuesdays and simply have every weekend in the interest of the child. This way, the child has 33% fewer exchanges to endure, the frequency and quality of contact with both parents are maintained, and the child can have an uninterrupted rhythm during the school week that he's starting in the fall.

Unless something else has changed in your child's situation, I just think you'll be hard-pressed to win the way you're hoping. But definitely consult with at least one attorney in your area, if not more. I may be all wrong on this... or not.

Good luck.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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