Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Family Law Evidence -- School Quality

Working on a family law case and am not sure how to get a hi puest08/28/17
Public record exception is likely your best bet. Maybe stipu thirdtierlaw08/28/17
That's exactly what I was thinking. While it's not publishe puest08/28/17
Why would that ever be relevant? fettywap08/28/17
Relocation. Need to show that the preferred destination has puest08/28/17
An excuse to fleece supporting parent at the higher rate and triplesix08/28/17
Another option could be to retain an expert. The data on whi onehell08/28/17
Unfortunately, I don't think school availability is nearly i puest08/28/17
You can always try to see if they would take judicial notice downwardslope08/28/17
OP is in a bit of a tough spot because frankly, upon reflect onehell08/29/17
It probably isn't persuasive enough to hire an expert but I thirdtierlaw08/29/17
I recently moved, but my former state was similar to yours. downwardslope08/29/17
We have the same law, i.e. close to 50/50 as possible is the onehell08/29/17
In NY courts generally do not consider school quality becaus metsfan08/28/17
in reality, just aggressively trying to get it into evidence defensivelawyer08/29/17
puest (Aug 28, 2017 - 11:53 am)

Working on a family law case and am not sure how to get a high school's ranking/rating into evidence. The state in question publishes grades for each school in its state, so that seems like a public record exception. Then again, maybe it can be used in a non-hearsay way, e.g., to show a general level of respect for the school in question rather than to show that it is, in fact, an "A+" school.

What do you guys think?

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thirdtierlaw (Aug 28, 2017 - 12:17 pm)

Public record exception is likely your best bet. Maybe stipulate with OP to the admission. It'll save you from subpoenaing someone from the State.

Does a newspaper publish the results? You may be able to get in the ranking by having your client testify, like you suggested above, to the reputation of the school and maybe try getting it in under the "self-authenticating" newspaper or periodical exception if it exists in your State.

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puest (Aug 28, 2017 - 12:21 pm)

That's exactly what I was thinking. While it's not published in a newspaper, it's freely available online for the public to view and is commissioned by the state, so it should be self-authenticating. We'll see if OP plays nice. My guess is that he won't since he doesn't want to aid his ex-wife's attempt to move the kids to another state.

Thanks for the help!

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fettywap (Aug 28, 2017 - 12:01 pm)

Why would that ever be relevant?

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puest (Aug 28, 2017 - 12:02 pm)

Relocation. Need to show that the preferred destination has high quality schools for the kids.

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triplesix (Aug 28, 2017 - 1:14 pm)

An excuse to fleece supporting parent at the higher rate and/or justify relocation away from the supporting parent.

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onehell (Aug 28, 2017 - 1:15 pm)

Another option could be to retain an expert. The data on which an expert witness relies does not need to be independently admissible. Then you get more than just a dry report on rankings, you get in-depth testimony about what these measures are, how they were designed, why the community considers them reliable, what difference that might make for an individual student, etc. With just a report and no witness of any sort, there's always the risk that the court will not interpret it the way you want, or will say that even if it is admissible that there is no one qualified to interpret how this macro-level information might affect an individual child, etc.

Experts are expensive, but when fighting for relocation some clients are well-advised to spare no expense.

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puest (Aug 28, 2017 - 3:41 pm)

Unfortunately, I don't think school availability is nearly important enough to warrant that kind of expense, especially since the schools really aren't that great. I'm just stuck doing a partner's busy work on this.

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downwardslope (Aug 28, 2017 - 8:45 pm)

You can always try to see if they would take judicial notice of the rankings if it is published and adopted by some standardized measure by the state. I don't know what state it is in, but my home state publishes the overall scores of every single school. If they are trying for an out of state move, I think you're probably out of luck.

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onehell (Aug 29, 2017 - 12:37 am)

OP is in a bit of a tough spot because frankly, upon reflection it's probably not THAT persuasive of an argument, though apparently the partner thinks it is.

That said, in my experience relocation petitions usually get granted. Technically the burden to show best interests is on the one seeking to move, but unless there's actual evidence that the custodial parent has no real reason to do it other than to cut off the noncustodial parent, courts in my state usually find the relocations to be in the child's best interests.

Everyone needs to move on with life, and these moves usually come up because there's a better job or a new boyfriend. If that's her reason, just have her testify accordingly, perhaps be prepared to kick in on the cost of place tickets, etc. Sucks for the NCP because less visitation can mean more child support, but the courts won't force a custodial parent to stay in a dead-end job or abandon a new love just because it isn't fair to the noncustodial parent. Fairness to the NCP is, after all, largely irrelevant to whats in the child's best interests.

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thirdtierlaw (Aug 29, 2017 - 7:26 am)

It probably isn't persuasive enough to hire an expert but I think it is worth presenting to the court.

My state is a bit different than yours. Any move over 50 miles is considered a real substantial change and the judges will many times use it as a spring board to readjust everything, even to the point of who is the custodial parent.

If you're moving away you need a really good reason and it can't be that your new significant other needs to move.

The overwhelming presumption in my State and recently reaffirmed by statute is that 50/50 parent child contact is expected. If the judges award something different they are now required to make written findings. Whereas even as of last year they could just rule from the bench.

So in practice any parent moving away is looked at as ignoring a child's best interest. So it's practically a strike against the moving parent.

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downwardslope (Aug 29, 2017 - 9:52 am)

I recently moved, but my former state was similar to yours. I have one friend who was in a contested divorce for years because he wanted to move more than 50 miles away and could not. The parent is basically stuck in the same place without a super compelling reason to leave.

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onehell (Aug 29, 2017 - 1:38 pm)

We have the same law, i.e. close to 50/50 as possible is the presumption and you need written findings otherwise, but my experience has been that the presumption exists, much like burden of proof, only in theory. It's found rebutted more often than not. Changes in custody do happen, but only when the kid is an adolescent and actively wants to stay. If it's an infant or toddler, they'll just say that wherever there's more financial stability is the better place for the child.

Another thing: No lawyer can actually suggest that someone do this because it is illegal, but I've seen pro pers do it. This is the idea that it is better to ask forgiveness than permission, so custodial parent just up and leaves. Mom has no home to come back to in the old state so this deprives the court of the ability to deny the relocation entirely so in practical effect, the judge is left with only the nuclear option of switching primary physical custody.

But you can still order a switch in custody only if it is consistent with child's best interests, not as mere punishment for contempt. Punishing mom's contempt is secondary to child's best interests so they levy some fine or whatever instead. Had the mom done what she was required to do and petitioned in advance, it may well have been denied. But by violating the order she gets what she wants. Even the fine is often offset by child support arrearages.

And of course, there's always "the deal." Technically, mom can't waive child support, but she can waive enforcement of child support so long as she's not on welfare. So she just closes the "IV-D case," which is the DCS agency effort to collect unpaid support. Closing it ends the bad credit reporting and wage garnishment even though the debt still continues to accrue. In exchange dad agrees to buzz off. It's totally informal and nonbinding and mom could reopen the IV-D at any time, but often she doesn't care about support and just wants dad out of her life. Can't waive the support but you can call off the dogs. That gives custodial parents significant leverage against indigent noncustodial parents.

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metsfan (Aug 28, 2017 - 7:03 pm)

In NY courts generally do not consider school quality because it is subjective

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defensivelawyer (Aug 29, 2017 - 10:23 am)

in reality, just aggressively trying to get it into evidence will let the judge know about it, and inevitably consider it, even if excluded.

but yeah, it's nicer if it's admitted.

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