Whether you are getting a divorce or simply going through a custody battle with the other parent of your children, you should always keep in mind the relationship between where you live and where your children will go to school. Let’s take the most common scenario when both parents share joint legal custody of a child but one parent is the parent of primary residence. In others words, both parents have the right to make decisions on behalf of the child, but one parent has physical custody of the child. Where that parent resides, the one who has physical custody, is generally where the children will be allowed to attend a New Jersey public school for free. This should particularly be kept in mind if one parent is planning on moving between districts.
If you are planning to move between school districts, you should try and move prior to the beginning of a new school year to ensure that the children will be able to attend school at the new district for free, without any out of pocket expense to you. Be aware that you must be able to provide proof of residence to the school district in order for the enrollment to be of no cost to you. Each district has the right to request payment from a family who sends their child(ren) to a school district in which the child(ren) do not reside. Proof of residency can easily be established by providing proof of (1) a current lease or title to a home; (2) a purchasing contract for a home even if you have not moved in yet; or (3) receipt from a long stay hotel. In the current climate, school districts are finding anyway to cut costs, so they will find any reason to not allow a child to attend their schools that does not qualify under the letter of the law.
This article is meant to provide a basic overview of where your children should attend school. Should you have a more complicated arrangement with your past significant other, be sure to speak with an attorney before enrolling your children in any district’s public school. Contact us today for an initial consultation.
Our associate, Marissa Hirsch, Esq., contributed to this blog.