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Can my ex make my 15 year old son remain at a school in a different county if I have sole physical custody?

QUESTION: My ex and I got divorced when my son was 1. Since then, I have remarried and moved to a different county in the same state (California). My ex and I have had joint legal custody, but I have had sole physical custody since the divorce. After 13 years of having physical custody, my son wanted to see what it would be like living with my ex. An agreement was made and confirmed through email, by both me and my ex, with a stipulation that it would be temporary and that my son would be allowed to move back any time he chose to.
One school year has passed, and my now 15 year old son decided it wasn’t what he thought it would be and told me and my ex, separately and together, that he wants to return. My ex is now not agreeing to my son being unenrolled from the school he was attending while living with my ex and has rejected every school within our district, in an effort to make my son stay with him.
Can my ex make him stay by not agreeing to any school within the district I live in or is the legal expectation that he live with me (by choice) and I drive him 2 hours to school every morning?

ANSWER: If you have joint legal the schools may want to see both parents’ signatures on the enrollment. As your ex is refusing to sign the enrollment you may have to file a FL-300 Request for Orders to modify the present order.

HOW TO FILE OUT THE FORM: On the FL-300 Request for Orders form Check Custody, Visitation and the “change” box.

Prepare your FL-300 explaining the child custody modification order you want. Presumably either legal custody modified to you or joint legal custody with a carve out regarding schools. You should attach the emails that reflect your agreement (not a court ordered agreement but still evidence the Court will find informative).

File it with the Court (you must pay a filing fee). I infer from your question that there’s been no change in the custody orders since the divorce. If true this means you need to file the Request for Orders in the Court that granted the divorce not in the County in which you presently live.

Once you receive the court stamped copy of the FL-300 serve it on your ex. Use forms FL-335 Proof of Service by Mail and FL-334 Declaration regarding address confirmation. Then, file the FL-335 and FL-334 with the Court. proving he was served.

You will receive an order to mediation with a court mediation person prior to the hearing on your motion. The mediation may resolve the issue. If not, you will attend court and the judge will likely provide the relief you seek.

If you don’t want to write your own motion you can hire an attorney to write it. It’s cheaper for you if the attorney writes the motion for you on a limited scope basis but doesn’t appear to argue it.

Galen Gentry assists clients in Los Angeles and Southern California with with issues relating to modification of court orders.  Mr. Gentry has 30 years of experience and can help people to protect their interests. Call at (310) 282-7521 or contact us online by using the Orange form on the right of your screen to schedule a free consultation.