The Legal Residence of a Child with Divorced Parents

It is a common theme when two people divorce; they choose to live in separate towns away from the  former spouse. If they have children, this creates a scenario where the two will often have to choose between the better of the two school systems.

This generally means that the better school will have more students, stronger property tax base, and more student access to current technology which may result to more costs to the school. This is why most school systems do not allow other students from neighboring towns to join the school system.

According to the law, every adult is allowed one legal residence or domicile. A domicile is a place where an individual claims as their permanent residence. Though there is a long and arduous process for how the law applies to adults, children are generally much simpler.  Children have domicile of their parents, so, if the parents of the child live in separate places then the child has two domiciles. If the parents are divorced and the parents have joint custody then the children also has two domiciles.

Recently, the Town of Wayland, MA decided to formulate a rule to see if children of recently divorced parents could still attend any school in Wayland. Ames vs. Town of Wayland, Middlesex Superior Court (No. 14-6717).

The Town Rule explicitly stated that the child had to sleep at least 3 of the 5 days of the week in Wayland for them to continue to attend the school there. After the parent successfully appealed the Town Rule, the Superior Court held that the child could attend the Wayland school system despite being in Wayland only three out of every 14 nights.

In the state of Massachusetts, the Department of Education has always made it possible for children to attend the school for which one of their parents reside, but it is really up to the parents where their child is to obtain their education. When a couple gets divorced it is important to plan out where their child will be attending school. If you are getting divorced and have children in school, or need other legal help navigating a family law matter please contact Divorce Attorney Bruce Gage today!


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