What Happens if Parents Can’t Work Together on Homeschooling Decisions in NJ?

If Parents Disagree on Homeschooling, Courts Prioritize The Child’s Best Interests, Considering Custody Terms and Each Parent’s Ability to Educate Well.

What Happens if Parents Can't Work Together on Homeschooling Decisions in NJ?Whether you want more freedom in your family schedule, the ability to meet the individual needs of your child in a tailored, personalized way, or you are seeking alignment between your child’s education and your religious or philosophical beliefs, the desire to homeschool your child is usually based on very personal and passionate reasons. If you co-parent with your ex and they are opposed to homeschooling, it can present a difficult dilemma that requires consideration, communication, and potentially legal counsel to understand your rights and options.

The amount of homeschooled children in the United States grew exponentially following the COVID-19 pandemic when families across the country were unexpectedly thrown into home instruction and virtual schooling while schools were closed. While most students returned to in-person instruction in public or private schools, a large number of families decided to homeschool. Since then, the stigma around homeschooling that used to exist has dramatically changed, though it is still an unconventional approach to childhood education.

With this surge in alternative education also came increased disputes between co-parents with differing views and desires relating to homeschooling their children. So, if you wish to homeschool your child(ren) and their other parent disagrees, who has the final say? What rights and options do you have?

Court Involvement in Homeschooling Disputes in New Jersey

When a dispute around whether or not to homeschool arises, the type of custody held by each parent plays a significant role in decision-making authority. Parents with sole legal custody have the legal right to make educational decisions for their child unilaterally, without the consent of their child’s other parent. This includes the right to homeschool.

If parents have joint legal custody over their child, then this means the parents have equal rights to make educational decisions for the child. When parents cannot agree on homeschooling their child and one parent seeks an order on the issue from a court, the best interests of the child will be the court’s top priority with some deference given to the custodial parent. The custodial parent is typically in the driver’s seat of facilitating the child’s education by virtue of being the parent who is with the child during most of their school days, whether they attend public school, private school, or they are homeschooled.

An important New Jersey case, D.C. vs. V.C, established that the courts will look at the totality of the circumstances involved in a homeschool program or situation, and determine whether the child would receive the education with the “academic equivalence” of a traditional school.

Common Parental Concerns About Homeschooling

Not every parent believes that homeschooling is the right path for their child, and when this educational option involves their child being taught by their ex-spouse or ex-partner, it adds an additional layer of complication.  After a divorce or separation, it is common for ex-partners to hold negative opinions about each other, and this may cause them to doubt their ex’s capability to homeschool or fear that their ex’s bad qualities will be too influential on the child. This concern or skepticism could stem from the parent’s own experience with personal conflicts with their ex or other characteristics that cause them to question the parent’s ability to meet the child’s educational needs.

Many parents also worry about a lack of opportunities for their child to socialize if homeschooled. There are many extracurricular activities and learning opportunities that might not be as readily available or available at all to a homeschooling student, like sports teams, STEM clubs, band, and other group learning experiences.

Additionally, some parents worry about the academic rigor and lack of accountability in homeschooling. While homeschool affords children with the opportunity to learn at their own pace, without any health outside pressure to perform or meet standards, homeschooled students may fall behind their peers.

Factors for Consideration When Parents Disagree on Homeschooling

Court Involvement in Homeschooling Disputes in Kearny, NJWhere two parents share joint legal custody and one parents wants to homeschool and the other parents wants their child to attend a traditional school, courts will first look at any custody agreement that exists. If that agreement specifically addresses how the child is to be schooled and which parent shall make educational decisions for the child, then those terms will be enforceable. If educational decisions are not specifically established in a custody agreement, then the court will determine what path is in the best interests of the child by considering the child’s unique educational needs, social needs, impact of homeschooling, and the parent’s ability to provide an education with academic rigor.

Contact a Family Lawyer in Little Falls for Help Resolving a Homeschooling Dispute with Your Ex

Whether you are a parent who wishes to homeschool, facing objections from your child’s other parent, or you yourself oppose your ex’s desire to homeschool your child(ren), it is critical to understand your rights and the options available to you. Specifically, our team can counsel you on your right to make educational decisions for your child based on the type of custody you hold. Resolving your dispute with your child’s other parent might involve negotiating and drafting a custody agreement or petitioning the court to issue an order regarding the child’s schooling. At The Montanari Law Group, our experienced family lawyers can construct a compelling, evidence-based argument to support your position.

For more information on how our team of seasoned family law attorneys can help you advocate for you and your child on the issue of homeschooling in a co-parenting relationship, contact us today. Whether you or your child reside in Wyckoff, West Milford, Paterson, Wayne, Paramus, Woodland Park, Haledon, Montvale, Verona, Kearny, or another community in Passaic County and Northern New Jersey,  we assist clients like you regularly. Our firm is dedicated to achieving a favorable outcome while advocating on your behalf in a dispute over homeschooling your child. Contact us today at (973) 233-4396 or online for your confidential, cost-free consultation.


To speak with one of our highly knowledgeable attorneys, contact us today at (973)-233-4396 or toll-free at (888)-877-7985. You can also complete the form below to begin your conversation. We are a personalized, boutique-style law firm that offers free initial consultations and flexible appointment options.