One of the primary concerns that Parents debate in child custody cases is which parent should have custody of the child on school nights. Now, there are a number of factors that go into determining which parent should have custody on those evenings including: which parent is more likely to help the child with homework, which school district each parent lives in, their proximity to the school and the availability of transportation to and from the school.
However, unanticipated problems have arisen wherein public school districts have refused to allow a child to be picked up and dropped off by the bus at more than one address. Apparently different school districts have different policies and there was no guarantee that the school would make an accommodation. Earlier this year, however, a Pennsylvania appellate court ruled that a child can have more than one residence and, consequently, more than one bus stop for transportation to and from school. This ruling requires a school district to make accommodations for children of divorced parents and bus him or her to the appropriate residence.
While this ruling clearly establishes that a child may have more than one bus stop within the same school district, it does not set forth a procedure for the more problematic circumstance of when parents live in different districts. In this case, it is still left open as to who should bear the responsibility for transportation. Should it be the district in which the child resides? Should it be the school district that the child attends? Is neither responsible, obligating the parent to transport the child?
Undoubtedly, the courts will have to address this issue eventually. However, for the time being, if you are a parent embroiled in a custody case, please take these issues into consideration and consult an experienced family law attorney when negotiating a consent agreement or going to trial. It is easy to lose sight of the practical implications of a custody schedule when fighting to retain as much time with your child as possible.