How courts view home school in custody cases.
Many years ago, when I first started working as a family law attorney, home school was presumed to be a haven for the fringes of society. People who had unusually strong religious beliefs, or who were sailing around the world with their kids, or who were living in communes, all home-schooled their kids. In those days, home schooled kids struggled to be accepted into four-year colleges, and were seen as poorly educated, possibly indoctrinated, and socially backward.
Courts back then echoed this sentiment. They frequently would custody of the children to the parent who wanted to put the kids into a mainstream public or private school, and express openly that the reasons for doing so were exactly as listed above: home schooled kids were weird and didn’t learn to standards.
This is all changing now. This article has a nice collection of opinions from around the nation showing the growing trend away from the previous negative presumptions about home school.
My own experience with home school has varied, but I have generally found the courts to be much more accepting nowadays. The one big exception I have encountered was a case where the child’s pro-home-school parent was engaging in severe parental “gatekeeping,” and was using home school as a means of isolating the child from the other parent. The child admitted during child custody recommending counseling that home school included repeated severely negative references to the non-home-school parent as mean and psychologically unstable (both untrue statements).
This is generally how home school works in conjunction with child custody nowadays. Home school is increasingly looked at as any other school choice, unless it is causing some harm to the children that would not be experienced in other circumstances.
Here is a link to the Washington Post article: