Florida judge orders parents to send children to public school
A Florida child custody hearing took an unexpected turn when the judge ordered the divorced parents to send their home-schooled children to public school.
January 31, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Florida judge orders parents to send children to public school
Article provided by Lasky Law Firm
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A Florida divorce and child custody case wound sparking a statewide controversy recently when a judge ordered that a divorced couple's previously homeschooled children be sent to public school. Although the children's schooling had not been raised as an issue in the hearing, the Florida family court judge presiding over the case ruled that attending public school would be in the children's best interest. The case is currently on appeal before the Florida Court of Appeal.
According to a summary of the case provided by Home School Legal Defense Association, the children's parents had been involved in an ongoing dispute over parenting time since their divorcea number of years ago. At a hearing that had been scheduled to address the visitation schedule -- in which the children's homeschooling had not been raised as an issue -- a psychologist appointed by the court testified that the children were performing well from an academic standpoint.
Nevertheless, a court-appointed guardian ad litem told the judge that she believed the children should be placed in public school, reportedly based on a "gut reaction" that such an arrangement would be better for their social development. The judge agreed and ordered the parents to enroll the children in school immediately. The case will be reviewed by the Florida Court of Appeal at a later date.
What is a guardian ad litem?
A guardian ad litem is a person appointed by the court to represent the interests of children involved in a legal proceeding, such as the child custody dispute described above. While the intended purpose of a guardian ad litem is to protect the wellbeing of children involved in a legal dispute and advocate on their behalf in court, things have the potential to go awry if the guardian ad litem makes recommendations based on insufficient information.
Some contend that this is what occurred in the Florida homeschooling case, arguing that the guardian ad litem's recommendation was based on inaccurate stereotypes about the social consequences of homeschooling. According to an amicus brief filed by the HSLDA, research has debunked the myth that homeschooling negatively affects children's social development.
The best interests of the child
When divorced parents in Florida disagree about child custody, visitation or other matters affecting their children's care and wellbeing, a judge will settle the dispute according to what he or she believes to be in the child's best interests. As the homeschooling case illustrates, however, this is a highly subjective standard that can yield unpredictable results.
In order to help obtain the best results for everyone involved, it is wise to seek help from an experienced family law attorney when dealing with a divorce or other family law dispute in Florida. A lawyer with an in-depth understanding of Florida's family court system can help parents navigate the dispute resolution process and pursue an optimal resolution for themselves and their children.
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