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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Monday, January 31, 2011

New Hampshire Supreme Court Reviews Family Court Decision on Home Schooling

Custody issues are almost always best-decided by parents outside the courthouse.  Sometimes, however, a school choice dispute drives post-divorce parents into the courtroom.

In a case percolating through New Hampshire, a family court judge endorsed a parenting plan between feuding parents that featured public school over home-schooling by the mother.  The case was argued before the New Hampshire Supreme Court last week with a decision expected soon.

Mother, Brenda Voydatch, claims a constitutional First Amendment right to direct her daughter's education in accord with her deeply-held religious beliefs.  Father, on the other hand, petitioned the family court for an order that his daughter attend public school.  The family court judge appointed a guardian ad litem for the child who recommended the switch to public school.

Father knows best; for now.

This case has been acquiring headlines while burning through the NH appellate courts.  The parents have already tested their respective positions on the school issue in a full-blown custody trial resulting in joint legal custody, with "physical custody" to the child's mother.

Mother attacked the family court's reliance on the so-called expert testimony of the GAL, an admitted non-expert in the comparative pedagogies sought by the parents.  Mother paid her lawyers to be troubled by the court's apparently exclusive reliance on his GAL; a sort-of "judge-in-the-field".

For their part, father's lawyers have scoffed at the notion that any constitutional issues are presented in the case at all. Father sees the family court's public school ruling as an example of tough decision-making; family court style.   His pleadings also assert that Mother has exhibited an excessive, Christian, religiosity in her curriculum that has impeded their children's socialization; read "secularization".

The dispute is certainly philosophical, if not constitutional.  Stay tuned per usual as we await the outcome of the case and report back to you.

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