The choice of your child’s school and education is important and can be incredibly emotive if parents can’t agree perhaps even more so for separated parents.
We are often asked what to do if a parent wishes to change their child’s school and in this article Family Lawyer Gemma Rowe answers some of the concerns raised when it comes to changing schools.
What happens if we both agree to changing school?
If both parents have thought carefully and agree to the change of school, then that’s great and the child’s school can be changed.
What happens if we cannot agree about changing school?
If the child’s change of school remains an area of dispute and both parents simply cannot agree, either parent can need make an application to the Court, applying for what is called a Specific Issue Order. This Order allows the Court to determine the outcome.
It’s not a quick fix! Such an application could take around 3-5 months to be determined, subject to the Court’s availability.
The Court application must be made to the Court as soon as it is clear that an agreement cannot be reached. You should always try and avoid disruption for your child and their education so the application should be made before they are due to start school and you shouldn’t enrol them before the Court has made any decisions.
The child’s best interest should always be put first
The Court will only agree to change the child’s school if it is in the child’s best interests and appropriate to do so. The Court must have regard to the child’s welfare as its overriding consideration and will apply the welfare test before determining their decision.
The Court will consider factors such as:
- The reasons why one parent is seeking to change the child school
- The reasons why the other parent is disputing the proposed change of school
- The date of the required enrolment and start date of the proposed new school
- Evidence of the steps taken to try and resolve matters between the other parent in advance of Court proceedings being issued by the parent seeking to change the child’s school.
- Evidence of the parent’s research in relation to the new school proposed
- Any relevant evidence from the child’s existing and proposed new school, such letters and reports
- The impact of any change of school upon the child
- The resources available to the child at the new proposed school
What would happen if one parent singlehandedly controlled the decision regarding the child’s school?
The parent disputing the change of the child’s school can make their own application to the Court to apply for a Specific Issue Order for the child’s change of school to be determined. As a last resort and every other option has been exhausted that parent could also apply for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the other parent from enrolling and/or sending the child to a new school entirely against their wishes.
If you are facing any of the issues address in this article and would like to discuss changing your child’s school or any family law issue please do get in touch.
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