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How home-schooling can affect child custody

There is typically a battle over who will get custody of the children after divorce. Massachusetts courts make the determination of child custody based on the best interests of the child and other factors. Some of the factors include how the parents are raising the child and their decision for schooling. In some instances, the court may consider issues such as home-schooling vs. attending a public school.

Each state is different and some judges may seem to prefer parents who have certain religious beliefs or those who have none. Some determinations appear to be made based on each of the parent’s principles, such as which parent might raise the child to be racist or homophobic. Aside from the parents’ beliefs and principles, judges tend to weigh the question of where the parents intend to send the child to school. One parent may want to send the child to public school while the other would prefer to have the child home-schooled.

In one case, a judge granted joint custody, but gave the father residential custody. The judge stated that the father is well-informed about the benefits of education and the interaction with other students. The judge apparently felt that children would not be able to achieve that through home-schooling. However, the case was taken to an appellate court that disagreed with the trial court’s thoughts on home-schooling, but ultimately upheld residential custody going to the father due to the mother's interaction with someone who apparently had a drinking problem.

When the possibility of home-schooling is present in a child custody case, parents may find themselves in conflict over whether this is a good choice for their particular child. If the parents are unable to reach a consensus, they may have to defer to a judge during divorce proceedings. The family court system in Massachusetts resolves these types of disputes and determines if home-schooling is in a child's best interest on a case-by-case basis.

Source: The Washington Post, "Home schooling and child custody", Eugene Volokh, Aug. 18, 2014

Source: The Washington Post, "Home schooling and child custody", Eugene Volokh, Aug. 18, 2014

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