Family Court Threatens to Send Child to Private School

If Parents Can’t Parent Without a Mess, the Courts Step in

We have talked in the past about the importance of trying to formulate a cooperative parenting plan for your children. Judges, at least some, are happy to point out that if parents can’t make decisions amongst themselves, they will. And that nobody will be happy with that decision.

As so, recently, a state appeals court from NY reprimanded a family court judge in Rensselaer County. The appeals court acted because of the judge’s “inexplicable actions” in a custody case from 2015, which related to custody and school.

Apparently, the two parents were having a problem agreeing on custody for their child. The time in question, it seems, was only two-and-a-half hours in the afternoon on Fridays. At issue initially was where the child would attend kindergarten. As well as what to do when the father was working when he was supposed to pick up the child on Friday afternoons.

Sometimes, it seems, a parent can push the wrong buttons with a judge.

And Sometimes Courts Make Mistakes Too

So, eventually, the family court judge told the parents, “If we have a trial, everything is opened up and I don’t know what the other issues are.” In response, the parents’ attorneys then said that their clients did not need a full trial. Luckily, by the time the parents got in front of the judge, they had decided on a kindergarten. However, the judge then told the parents that if they couldn’t determine what to do about afternoons on Fridays, she would. She further said she was thinking about ordering the child to be put in private school. And she also warned that it would be an “outrageously expensive” school.

The parents’ attorneys then repeated that they were ready for the court to hear arguments on what to do about Fridays. However, they said, they did not want the issue about the school district opened up again.

Parents Can Make the Best Decisions When They Work Together

After a recess and no progress on the Friday afternoon issue, the judge accused the mother of putting the child in kindergarten without the father knowing about it. This was not true, however, according to the appellate court judge who wrote the court’s decision. The father had never alleged that the mother choose the child’s kindergarten without his knowledge.

The family court judge then insisted that a full hearing be held on the custody arrangement, and both parents testified during it. Strangely, though, there was no testimony about the child’s education. Later, in the family court’s decision, the judge gave the father primary physical custody. She further said that the father would need to put the child in the school district the father lived in. The court decided child custody and school issues for the parents, without needing to.

Appeals Are Costly

The mother appealed, stating that the judge’s order was “not supported by a sound and substantial basis in the record.” Ultimately, the appellate court ruled that a different lower court judge needed to review the custody order. The court then sent the case back down to family court.

If you have a custody issue, an attorney can help make your parenting plan fair while protecting your rights. Contact us at (401) 305-2934 today to get started.

Source:, “Threat to send child to pricey school leads to rebuke of judge,” Emily Masters, April 20, 2017

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