Change in Parenting Time Due to Children Changing Schools
Posted on : January 4, 2017, By: Christopher Hildebrand
Change in Parenting Time Due to Children Changing Schools
Parents have fundamental and protected rights in the care and custody of their children. This includes the right to parenting time. Once a parenting plan is in place, the court must consider a range of factors before amending it. This includes the impact the modification will have on the parent/child relationship. In Baker v. Meyer, 346 P.3d 998 (App. 2015), the Arizona Court of Appeals reviewed the factors to be considered.
Facts and Procedure
Mrs. Baker and Mr. Meyer, married in 1995. They had three children: J., born in 1998, N., born in 2000, and B., born in 2004. They divorced in 2008 and the decree of dissolution of marriage incorporated the couple’s parenting agreement.
Under the decree and parenting agreement, Mrs. Baker and Mr. Meyer had joint legal and physical custody. The agreement provided that the children would be with each parent for seven consecutive days on an alternating basis. It set out school pick-up and return schedules. It prohibited either parent from committing a child to an activity which infringed upon the other parent’s parenting time.
In 2014, husband filed a motion requesting that two of the children be allowed to enroll in boarding school in Northern California. Specifically, J. would return for his junior year of high school to the Cate School, and N. would enroll at Cate for his freshman year.
Wife objected to N. enrolling at Cate. She wanted him to go to a local school in Tucson, so she could maintain her parenting time with him. N. told the court that he wished to go to Cate. The trial court did not view the issue as one of parenting time, but one of school placement.
The court reviewed the two proposed schools and found them about the same. It concluded it was in N.’s best interest to attend the Cate school since he wanted to. It also found this would relieve his stress from traveling between his parents’ homes.
Change in Parenting Time Due to Children Changing Schools.
Parenting Rights Protected
Parents have fundamental rights in the custody and control of their children. These are protected rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Arizona’s law also recognizes these rights.
Arizona public policy and statutes make clear that a child’s best interest includes substantial and continuing parenting time with both parents.
Trial Court’s Focus on Schooling
The trial court, in this case, viewed the issue presented as one of school placement only. Therefore, it applied the best interest factors set forth in Jordan v. Rea, 212 P.3d 919, 926 (App.2009). In that case, a father objected to his children continuing their education at a private religious school.
The appellate court directed the trial court to review the child’s best interests. The relevant factors include 1) the wishes of the child’s parent or parents; 2) the wishes of the child; 3) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with persons at the school; 4) the child’s adjustment to any present school placement.
The Court noted that it formulated these factors in the context of a child’s placement at a local school. In the Jordan case, neither of the parents alleged a change in parenting time. That was not the situation in the present case.
Jennifer, thank you for being my attorney. I could not have been more pleased with the outcome of my family court hearing. Everything you have done for me throughout this case reflects in the final ruling of the judge. You helped me keep my head together and taught me a lot about myself as a person. I learned so much about my life from observing and listening to you. I will take all the advice you gave me to continue taking responsibility for my choices, continue to put the kids' needs first, and always stay truthful. Your diligence, dedication, and persistence in my case made what seemed impossible, possible. You are a wonderful person and an amazing attorney and I am stronger and more confident because of you.
I just want to again thank the Firm for working with me all that it has. I could not have done anything without everyone's assistance. You, Chris and Stacey have been and continue to provide me with compassion and hard work towards my case. Also a very special thanks to Kip for taking my case in the beginning. Also continued support from him and his dedication to providing me with his expertise in this matter.
After interviewing several law firms, I came across Jennifer Shick, and her firm, who I hired to represent me for my Family Court case. Jennifer has extensive knowledge of the law and is determined to bring the truth to every issue involved within the case. Throughout my case, Jennifer was prepared meticulously as well as went above and beyond all of my expectations. Even when the other party tried to differ from the truth, lie to the Judge, and turn situations around, Jennifer remained attentive and provided substantial evidence to show the judge the facts as well as the proof to support what was the best interests of my children. Additionally, Jennifer helped me endure many difficult experiences, situations and inspired me to remain positive throughout the entirety of my case. Her kindness, compassion, and professionalism helped me through very difficult times and made the process feel a thousand times lighter on my shoulders. She truly has my children and my best interest at heart and I trust her perspective as well as her honesty on each and every aspect of my case. She lessened the burden on my shoulders and even when I felt like the case was not going to go in my favor, Jennifer was open-minded and reassured me that the Judge would, in fact, see the truth, which he did and the case went in my favor. After nine months of court, everything finally came together. I cannot declare how much Jennifer has been an outstanding attorney. She addressed each and every issue with diligence, she cares about her clients and their families. Jennifer genuinely cares about her clients and her dedication to the details of the case was remarkable. Overall, I am extremely pleased with Jennifer’s services and I am truly thankful that I was so blessed to have her represent my children and me. I highly recommend Jennifer as one of the best attorneys in Arizona and if the situation ever arises, I will definitely have her represent my children and me again.
Dear Stacey and Kip, How can I ever thank you enough for helping me through the most difficult time in my life? I couldn't put into words my heartfelt gratefulness. You both were so compassionate and professional at every given moment throughout this process with me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me to regain my freedom.
I was a client of Attorney Kevin Park for the dissolution of a divorce in 2016. And since I had never had the need to hire an attorney before for any purpose, I was somewhat apprehensive of the process. But the very calm and professional demeanor of Mr. Park eased my fears. He adeptly answered all my questions and I clearly knew the process and what to expect. And the skilled manner he communicated with opposing counsel was perfect. When it came down to negotiating with my spouse’s counsel, I knew I had selected the best attorney for my situation. What I noticed and appreciated was that he was using just the right amount of pressure with opposing counsel as was necessary. If you find yourself in this situation, you will want a seasoned professional like Mr. Park on your side. I'm very grateful that he was my attorney and not the opposition!
Chris is a smart and aggressive attorney for his clients. Chris always tries to reach a fair settlement of his cases. I’ve represented clients when Chris was the opposing counsel and while he is professional and amicable to work with, he does not back off on what he needs to do for his client
Kevin Park of Hildebrand Law was just what I needed for my divorce. He was very approachable and personable. He was quick to recognize what I needed and provided it quickly and efficiently. I hope to never need a divorce lawyer again, but if I know anyone else who does, I will definitely recommend Kevin.
I feel that Tracey Van Wickler is certainly one of the best family lawyers around. She is logical, intelligent, and truly cares. Tracey always does what is in the clients best interest, does it well, timely and with integrity. She is good at keeping her clients informed as to what is going on and clear in her communication both written and verbally. I have recommended Tracey to other people and will continue to recommend her. I recommended Tracey to someone who was having issues with their ex-wife and his response was, “I know how good she is because I went up against her and she ate me for lunch”. This same person was so impressed with her, he even recommended her to someone else, WOW, that is impressive! I am exceptionally happy with her attention to detail, her ability to explain things in ways that are easy to understand, as well as her ability to keep everyone focused on the most important things. I would recommend Tracey to anyone who may be in need of her services.
In this case, Mrs. Baker objected to N.’s attendance at Cate because of lost parenting time. The plan would reduce her yearly time with him by at least 121 days. That is sixty-six percent of the time she had been allocated in the divorce decree.
The trial court did not address that impact. Instead, it applied the Jordan factors. It focused on the qualities of the schools and the wishes of the child.
When parenting time is at issue, the trial court must make specific findings on the record about all relevant factors and the reasons for which the decision is in the best interests of the child. These include 1. The past, present and potential future relationship between the parent and the child. 2. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest. 3. The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community. 4. If the child is of suitable age and maturity, the wishes of the child as to legal decision-making and parenting time. 5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
The trial court’s decision failed to consider the proper factors and make appropriate findings of parenting time. This was an error of law.
The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the trial court to address the appropriate factors and make the mandated findings.
As Seen on CBS News, ABC News, NBC News, and Fox News