Timing is Key: When to File a Child Custody School Choice Dispute Motion in Michigan
June 15, 2023 School Choice
For most parents, navigating the complexities of a school choice dispute can be challenging, especially when determining the optimal timing to file a motion in Michigan. Let’s explore the critical considerations involved in choosing the right moment to initiate a school choice motion in Michigan. By delving into legal guidelines, procedural aspects, and practical factors, we aim to provide clarity and guidance for parents seeking to assert their rights and advocate for their child’s education.
Understanding the Legal Landscape
In Michigan, child custody matters are governed by the Michigan Child Custody Act, which prioritizes the best interests of the child when making decisions. When it comes to school choice disputes, the court’s primary focus is on providing stability, continuity, and educational opportunities that align with the child’s needs and overall well-being. Of course, it is best for parents to resolve school choice disputes amicably, and the court will consider if parents tried to be reasonable and co-parent before filing a motion became necessary.
School choice motions, also called Lombardo hearings, can focus on debates surrounding public versus private schooling, religious or specialized education, and disagreements over academic performance or social environment.
Factors Influencing the Best Time to File
Parents often know for quite some time that they will end up with a school choice dispute. If you know that you may not be able to reach an agreement about where your child will go to school, then you should prepare in advance and consider the timing of your motion. Several factors should be considered when determining the best time to file a school choice dispute motion in Michigan:
- Adequate Documentation: Before filing a motion, gather relevant evidence to support your position. This may include academic records, teacher evaluations, evidence of a better educational opportunity, or any documented issues at the current school. The strength of your documentation can strengthen your case.
- Litigation History: If you recently filed a child custody, parenting time change or school choice motion, the judge will be hesitant to review the best interest factors again.
- Significance of Events that Required the Change: If a certain event in your or your child’s life requires a change of schools, then the motion should be filed shortly before the event if possible or soon as possible after the event. For example, if the school discontinued transportation to your home and you resolved that problem with driving your child to school, then filing a motion a year later will weaken your request. Logically, you were able to drive your child for the past year and can continue doing so to provide your child with the necessary stability.
- Communication and Cooperation: It’s beneficial to attempt communication and cooperation with the other parent before resorting to litigation. Discuss your concerns about the child’s educational needs and explore the possibility of reaching a mutual agreement. If all efforts fail, filing a motion may be the next step, but a claim that you tried to co-parent will strengthen your claim.
- Academic Calendar: File a motion in a timely manner, considering the academic calendar. When you obtain an Order to change schools during spring with a request to start the next school year at the new school has a better change of success than a request to change schools in October. Sometimes a request to change schools in the middle of the academic year is necessary, but if you can avoid it, you will increase your chances of success. Avoid waiting until the last minute, because you likely will need to attend several hearings, including an evidentiary hearing. The Court’s schedule is busy, and you likely will encounter a waiting time.
Legal Consultation: Seek guidance from one of our family law attorneys and call us for a free consultation at 616-285-0808. We can provide legal advice tailored to your specific situation and help you navigate the complexities of the legal process, including determining the appropriate time to file a motion.
Determining the best time to file a child custody school choice dispute motion in Michigan requires careful consideration of the significance of your child’s need to change schools, your litigation history, whether you tried to resolve the issue without the court’s involvement, the start of the next academic year, and whether you have your documentary evidence ready to proceed to a hearing.