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COVID-19 Remote vs. In-Person Learning: What Happens if Divorced Parents Cannot Agree?

COVID-19 Remote vs. In-Person Learning: What Happens if Divorced Parents Cannot Agree?

The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for married and divorced parents alike. One of the most challenging decisions has been deciding between remote and in-person learning.

There are both supporters and opponents of in-person learning in school and online learning at home. Both of these options have their pros and cons. In fact, most school districts throughout Texas allowed parents to decide whether they want to send the kids back to school for in-person learning or continue remote learning at home.

Unfortunately, this situation has caused disagreements between divorced parents who cannot agree on sending their children to school or staying home for remote learning. And the worst part is this: The situation is so unprecedented that Texas law does not provide a definite answer.

If you and your ex-spouse disagree about remote learning vs. in-person learning in school, speak with a Lampasas child custody attorney to resolve your dispute.

What to Do if Divorced Parents Disagree About Sending Their Kids to School?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation, most child custody orders do not address which parent has the power to decide whether their children should return to school for in-person learning or continue remote learning.

When divorced parents cannot agree about sending their children back to school during the coronavirus pandemic, the best solution would be to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement. If the parents cannot come to an agreement on the issue, they should review their child custody order.

Many custody orders indicate that one parent has the authority to make decisions about the child’s education. If your order gives you the decision-making authority over a child’s education, it will be up to you to decide whether you want your child to go back to school or continue online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the child’s other parent may still be able to request a modification of the existing order if they do not agree with your decision.

If your custody order does not give you or your former spouse the right to make decisions regarding the child’s education, you may be able to modify the order so that only one parent can make decisions about the child’s education matters.

Before requesting a modification, it is highly advisable to work with a knowledgeable family law attorney to help you reach an agreement.

Should You Send Your Children to School or Continue Online Learning?

Under Texas Family Code § 151.001, both parents share the decision-making authority to make decisions regarding the child’s education unless their child custody order gives that right exclusively to one parent.

In other words, if the order does not specify which parent should make decisions about the child’s education, including the decision to go back to school or stay home for online learning, the parents may be unable to resolve their disagreement without court intervention.

Since current state laws do not address situations where divorced parents disagree about sending children back to school during a pandemic, the parents must rely on their custody order. When the order does not provide any guidance either, the parents have no choice but to go to court.

When divorced parents go to court to ask a judge to decide for them whether or not they should send the child back to school, the judge will consider what is in the child’s best interests.

Thus, if you are wondering, “Should I send my child to school or continue online learning?” There is no straightforward answer because the decision may have to be made on a case-by-case basis to determine what’s in the child’s best interests.

Can Parents Modify a Custody Order if They Cannot Agree About In-Person vs. Remote Learning?

Yes, parents can request a modification of the existing custody order if it does not specify which parent has the decision-making authority over a child’s education.

However, before asking the court to modify your custody order, contact a family law attorney to have them review your order. Your existing order may specify who has the right to make decisions regarding the child’s education.

If the order does not divide up the decision-making rights between the parents, it is probably because you and your ex-spouse have equal decision-making rights.

How to Modify a Custody Order in Texas?

Either parent has a right to request a modification of the child custody order. The requesting parent must file a petition with the court that finalized the divorce unless the child has a new home state.

The modification process may not take long if both parties agree that the order must be modified. If the parents agree on how to modify a custody order, they can submit their proposed changes to the order. The judge will review the proposed changes to either approve or deny them.

If the parents cannot agree on the changes to the order or one party does not agree on the need to change anything, modifying the order may be a time-consuming process.

Under Texas law, the parent who requests a modification must prove the following elements to modify a custody order:

  1. The child, who is now 12 years old, wants to change the primary caregiver; or

  2. There has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original order was made, and the proposed changes would be in the child’s best internets.

If you and your child’s other parent cannot agree about sending your child back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is advisable to contact a family law attorney to help you reach an agreement.

Contact a Lampasas Child Custody Attorney Right Now

The decision to send a child back to school during the coronavirus crisis is not an easy one. That’s why many parents cannot decide between in-person and remote learning.

If this sounds like your situation, talk to our Lampasas child custody attorney at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard. Our skilled family law attorneys can help you understand your rights and reach an agreement on the issue. Call 254-501-4040 for a free case review.
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