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Florida child custody dispute shines spotlight on homeschooling

Many Miami residents may have heard about a recent unusual turn in a Florida child custody case. The case involves a former couple now in the midst of child custody proceedings. During these proceedings, the children reportedly reside with their mother, and they are being homeschooled.

As is somewhat common in child custody cases, the court appointed a guardian ad litem in this case. A guardian ad litem is a neutral party assigned to study and protect the best interests of the children.

During a routine hearing last month, the guardian ad litem told the court that homeschooling was not good for these children. 

It has been reported that the father had not objected to homeschooling prior to this hearing.

A judge agreed with the court appointee and ordered the children to attend a public school. That ruling has been appealed to the Third District Court of Appeals in Florida.

This case is somewhat odd because, generally, parents do have a right to homeschool their children, provided certain standards are met. In divorce cases, however, parents often disagree on matters of schooling. Whether children should attend public or private schools, or be homeschooled, is often disputed.

In some divorce cases, one parent is awarded the right to make decisions about education. In other cases, parents negotiate terms for making these decisions as a part of a co-parenting plan.

In this particular case, it has been reported that the parents did not dispute the education of their children.

This case is a reminder nonetheless that child custody cases in Florida address not only where children should reside, but also who should have control over the upbringing of children. Religion, holiday celebrations, education, and medical care are among things to consider when creating a parenting plan.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Home-school group takes stance in Florida mom's case," Jeffrey S. Solochek, Nov. 29, 2013

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