Concerns Over COVID-19 and School Opening Options in Bucks County, PA Child Custody Cases

By a Bucks County, PA Child Custody Lawyer

The start of the new school year is often accompanied with stress for a child, especially during a custody dispute.  This stress has been compounded for many parents and their children as a result of COVID-19.  Parents with custody orders are regularly faced with difficult decisions.  In most cases, legal custody of the child is shared, which means the parents must mutually agree upon important decisions made for the child, including for educational and other school-related issues.  Examples of legal custody decisions in these categories that must be collectively decided include the selection of elective courses, enrollment in sports or activities, and enrollment in one school or another.  Since the onset of COVID-19, the possibility of remote learning has become increasingly popular, which presents parents with another decision that they must reach together.

Co-Parents Deciding on Remote, Hybrid or Other Options in Bucks County Child Custody Cases 

Schools are beginning to reopen in varying fashion.  Some will conduct the 2020-2021 school year entirely online.  Others may commence online but transition to in-person attendance eventually.  It is also possible that schools may offer parents the choice of electing online-based classes, or opting for some level of in-person learning.  If you share legal custody pursuant to a child custody order, you must first discuss these options with the child’s other parent prior to committing to a decision, no matter how well reasoned it may be.  You may be inclined to enroll your child in a different school that will reopen with safeguards you feel more comfortable with.  However, if the child’s other parent does not consent, you should first speak with a family law attorney.  No matter how well-intentioned you may be, the courts still require that you adhere to the shared legal custody provision of your custody order. 

Depending on the circumstances, failing to take certain action may also result in an educational outcome that you do not agree with.  In some cases, schools may automatically enroll your child in a particular schooling option.  If this happens, you may need to seek court intervention if you can’t otherwise agree.  No matter what your circumstances and preferences are, if you do not agree with your child’s parent on the educational decisions that must be made, an attorney familiar with child custody matters can assist you as you navigate the constantly evolving landscape of shared legal custody during the times of COVID-19.