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Can the courts force me to send my child to public school?

While some Virginia families are preparing to go back to school by meeting new teachers and attending school orientations, others are settling back into the familiar routine of school at home. While there are differing opinions on the subject of homeschooling, it is a choice that many Virginia families make. However, a divorce may take homeschooling the kids from a given to a matter decided by the family courts.

There have been cases where previously homeschooled children have been ordered by the courts to enroll in public school, and the majority of these cases happened after a divorce. Divorce changes many things, and even if both parents were agreeable to homeschooling before the separation, that may change after the paperwork is finalized.

In some cases, the other parent wants the kids to enroll in traditional school so that they have the opportunity to participate in school functions and extracurricular activities — which increases in importance as the children get older — or because of concerns about socialization or the lack thereof. While the courts may not consider this a reason to adjust the child support obligation, particularly if the child is doing well in homeschool, and there are no other changes in circumstance, it is a possibility parents should be aware of.

No matter the reason, having to go to family court over a custody dispute is a stressful and emotional time. It's normal to feel a loss of control and to be worried about your child's future, but discussing your options and what is likely to happen during the court process can help you feel more secure.

Source: HEAV, "Divorce and Homeschooling," Deborah G. Stevenson, accessed Aug. 14, 2015

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