After your divorce, you and your ex-spouse may now live in two different school districts. In some circumstances, you may want to change the school district that the children attend. What school district your child attends is subject to the laws of New York State. In the simplest terms, you cannot enroll your child in a school district where the child does not reside.

When the child’s parents live in two different school districts, you may be able to enroll the child in either of the two school districts. The following is a brief explanation of how New York State determines a child’s residence for purposes of attending a school district.

How New York State Determine A Child’s Residence?

When one parent has sole legal and residential custody, then the child’s residence is presumed to be that of the custodial parent. Therefore, the child will go to the school district where the sole legal custodial parent lives.

If the parents have joint legal custody, but, one parent has residential custody, then the child’s residence will most likely be determined to be the parent with residential custody. In most divorces, one parent will be designated the “residential custodial parent.” This designation has many legal effects. One of those legal effects, is that typically, the child will go to the same school district that the residential custodial parent lives.

If the parents have joint legal and joint residential custody, then for purposes of determining which school district the child attends, the child can only have “1 residence”. Determining which is the “right” school district requires an examination of where the child spends his or her actual time.

The first question to answer: “Is the child’s time essentially divided between the two parent’s households?” If the answer is yes and both parents assume day-to-day responsibility, then the parents can determine which school district the child attends.

It is important to note that “essentially divided” does not mean “exactly equally divided” (i.e. 50% with each parent). There is no hard and fast rule to determine, what “essentially divided” means. However, if the school district challenges your choice of school district, then you must provide proof of the child’s time being “essentially divided”. You may need to provide a detailed schedule of the child’s whereabouts.

If you enroll your child in the wrong school district, then you may be liable to pay for the value of the child’s tuition. You may also face criminal charges. If you are unsure of which school district to enroll your child in, you should consult with a child custody attorney.

If you are thinking of getting a divorce, then you need an experienced Matrimonial and Divorce Attorney to guide you through the process. The Badanes Law Office has helped numerous clients in their divorce and child custody matters. If you live in Long Island, Suffolk County, Nassau County or New York City, we can help you in obtaining a divorce.

Call us today at 631-239-1702 or email at

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