School Selection and Family Law in Fairfax County, Virginia

By | November 1, 2023
Private School Children

Selecting the right school for your child is a crucial decision, but it can become especially complex within the realm of family law and divorce.  When parents are separated or divorced, this choice often leads to disputes and legal complications. This blog post aims to discuss school selection and family law in Fairfax County, Virginia and offer guidance on navigating school selection in Fairfax County, Virginia, particularly for divorced or separated parents.  For a previous blog post about private schools and child support, click:  HERE.

Importance of School Selection in Child Custody Cases

Educational Impact

Obviously, the quality of a child’s education can have long-lasting effects on their development and future success. It is vital that both parents participate in choosing the right educational setting, regardless of either parent’s legal custody status.

Emotional Stability and Continuity

Consistency in a child’s life is key, particularly during the emotional upheaval of a divorce. The selection of a school can either support or disrupt this stability.  For example, it is important to consider whether the convenience of moving a child to a nearby school outweighs the additional stress to the child of new routines, new friends, etc.

Legal Framework for School Selection in Fairfax County

Decision-making Authority

In Fairfax County, as in the rest of Virginia, legal custody agreements and orders can stipulate who has the authority to make educational decisions, but all such decisions should be guided by the best interests of the child statutory factors.  If you’re unsure about your rights, consult a family law attorney.

Best Interests of the Child

Virginia courts focus on the best interests of the child when deciding custody and education issues and, frankly, any other issues relating to custody or visitation such as school selection. Factors considered include the child’s age, physical and mental condition, and the existing relationship with each parent.

Challenges in School Selection

Geographic Restrictions

If parents live far apart, this can complicate school choice. Fairfax County has many strong public schools to select from as well as many strong private school options. 

Financial Constraints

Public schools are generally funded through local taxes, whereas private schools are funded through tuition paid by parents.  As a result, typically the parent who prefers private school must provide a compelling advantage to private school (and sometimes be willing to separately bear the tuition cost).  Is the public school in your child’s school district particularly bad?  Does your child have difficulties a private school might better address? 

Resolving Disputes

Legal Recourse

If negotiation or alternative dispute resolutions like mediation fail, legal action may be necessary. Family courts in Fairfax County have experience in resolving these types of disputes.  Sometimes education experts are used to provide opinions about how and why certain schools are a better fit for a particular child.

Tips for Successful School Selection

Open Communication

Maintain open dialogue with the other parent. Joint decision-making is often more beneficial for the child. Remember that everything you write to the other parent could be a potential exhibit in court, so be polite, reasonable, and fair. 


Take the time to visit schools, review academic programs, and read reviews. The more information you have, the better.

Involve Your Child

If appropriate, involve your child in the school selection process. After all, they are the one who will be attending the school.


Navigating school selection as divorced or separated parents can be fraught with challenges. However, with open communication, thorough research, and, if necessary, legal guidance, it is possible to make the best decision for your child’s educational and emotional well-being.

If you or someone you know is navigating the complexities of family law, consider reaching out to an experienced family law attorney like Jason A. Weis, Esq.  For further insights and legal assistance, don’t hesitate to explore other posts on my website at or my firm’s website at



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