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Court bias, homeschooling and child custody

Pennsylvania couples who are going through divorce and dealing with child custody battles may be familiar with the policy of most family courts to rule in the best interests of the child. While this may be a reasonable standard in principle, the courts are not immune to judicial bias.

According to a recent article, a judge's feelings toward the effectiveness of homeschooling might be a point of contention and bias in some custody cases. Rulings in custody cases where homeschooling is a possible outcome do not demonstrate a preference that affects all courts. Some judges have ruled in favor of a parent who planned on homeschooling, and others have ruled for a parent that supported placing the student into a public school.

In one recent case, a lower court judge ruled in favor of a parent who would not home school, giving that person residential custody as part of a joint-custody decision. The judge stated that this parent was more fit to care for the child because he understood that socialization was a valuable part of education, but an appeals court found that the lower-court judge assumed that no socialization process took place during homeschooling, which is an unfounded assertion. However, the decision was upheld because of factors that were not related to the children's education.

As that case shows, the decisions on child custody can be difficult to predict. The different factors that the courts consider when making decisions about a child's best interests might vary widely. However, a parent might have a better chance of influencing a verdict and receiving custody of a child when working with a family law attorney. That attorney could develop a case that attempts to demonstrate that his or her client can provide for the well being the child effectively.

Source: The Washington Post, "Home schooling and child custody", Eugene Volokh, August 18, 2014

Source: The Washington Post, "Home schooling and child custody", Eugene Volokh, August 18, 2014

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