Compare schools before you announce plans to relocate
One of the fatal flaws parents make in a custody case is to announce suddenly that they wish to relocate with the children to another state. A “For Sale” sign goes up in the front yard, and the non-custodial parent is caught off-guard. Within days, there’s an emergency motion in court, trying to prevent the parent from leaving town with the kids.
Such relocation cases — or removal cases, as they are sometimes called– are problematic because they inevitably put more distance between the parents, and they disrupt, if not destroy, the whole custody and visitation arrangement.
One way to get an edge is to conduct a school comparison before you even announce plans to relocate. Compare the schools which the children currently attend with the schools they would attend in the new location. Gather evidence early so that you can show that the new schools will be better (in one respect or another).
There are many ways to compare schools: Class size; teacher-student ratio; number of teachers with master’s degrees; state funding per pupil; average aptitude or achievement test percentiles; graduation and dropout rates; the quality of textbooks and other learning resources; the extent of technology and computer resources; sports, clubs and other extra-curricular activities; overall school population and school-district populations; accessibility and disability accommodations; number of certified and uncertified teachers; number of certified guidance counselors and other specialists; special education resources; gifted and exceptional student programs; demographic data among teachers and among students; the look of the physical premises (the school building and grounds), and word of mouth in the community surrounding the school. If your children have special interests or special needs, you may wish to compare the availability of specialty programs, such as bilingual education; arts and theatre programs; interscholastic sports teams; alternative and correctional school programs; language arts facilities, math tutoring and mentoring programs. It’s also not a bad idea — these days — to inquire about drug, alcohol and violence prevention programs, and emergency response preparedness in the schools.
By loading up on details about the old school and the proposed new school, and being prepared to make comparisons, your chances of relocating with the children to a new home will be greatly improved.