Civil contempt in family court is the result of a title violation of the custody decree. In order to find a willful violation, the custody order needs to be specific enough to tell you what it is that you can or cannot do. First, you need to look at the wording of your custody order or divorce decree- whichever document you have that explains your duties and rights in the joint custody order. What does the decree say, if anything, about schooling and education? If the order does not specifically address the issue, then you need to work with the mother in the best interests of the child. Unless the decree states that you will homeschool or not put your child in preschool, it may be unlikely that you would be found in contempt. That’s the legal answer, but not the ultimate answer because truly, you and the mother need to be on the same page. You putting the child in preschool and then the mother pulling her out of preschool or refusing to take her on the days she’s with mom is just going to create a nightmare for your kid and generate a ton of bad will and friction between you and the mom. That’s my perspective as a lawyer.
Personally, I think both of those problems can be solved without enrolling your child in preschool. To solve problem 1: Playdates, inviting cousins over, going to playland title of places, sunday school, parent/child co-op groups, etc. Your child doesn’t need to be enrolled in preschool to enjoy social time with other kids. You do not specify why mom doesn’t want to put the child in preschool, but there might be a reason that’s in the best interests of your child like shyness, extended potty training, separation anxiety, etc. that mom has observed and she feels is important. Issue number 2- you need to be able to work. There is no court that is going to order you to be a stay at home parent. Period. If what you really need is child care so that you can go to work, then while your child is living with you (the times you have physical custody) then it is up to you to secure, safe, reliable child care through daycare, a babysitter, or a nanny. Sometimes an in-home day care is the best choice for little people and often times the daycare provider will do preschool activities with the kids.