Separated parents and education disputes
Deciding which school that your child should attend is a big decision for any parent, and it is important that both parents agree. If you are separated and you and your ex-partner can’t reach an agreement about your child’s education, the first option is to attend mediation to see if an agreement could be reached. Should this not be possible, you will need to make an application to the Court for a Specific Issue Order for the issue to be determined. The Court will consider what is in the children’s best interests when making such an order. The Court will apply the welfare checklist at Section 1(3) of the Children Act to determine the issue.
Ms L came to us for help with coming to an agreement with Mr D, her ex-partner, on the education of their 7 year old son. Ms L was working as a bursar in a private school. Their son was attending a state school and when Ms L accepted her job, she felt that it was in their son’s best interests that he attended the school where she was working. She would receive a 50% discount of the fees. She was able to pay such fees without Mr D’s assistance. Ms L approached this issue with him and he refused the change of school. He felt that it would be not be in their son’s best interest to do so as he felt it would reduce his time with his son, as he would have to attend school once a month on a Saturday. This was not correct, Mr D’s time would not be reduced, as Ms L offered 2 full contact weekends on alternate weekends, in which their son would stay over for 2 nights, whereas previously he was staying for one night every week. In addition, she offered a Wednesday night for dinner in the intervening week.
Mr D refused to discuss the matter further or mediate. Ms L had no alternative but to issue an application into the Court for a Specific Issue Order. We worked with Ms L to file a detailed, substantial statement and both parties gave subsequent evidence at Court. The Judge considered all the circumstances of the case, applied the welfare checklist and ordered that the child should attend the private school. The Court’s main focus was what was in the best interests of the child. The Judge also considered what type of school would bring the child into adulthood in such a way that the child is best equipped both to deal with the kind of life that they want to lead, and the kind of person that they want to be in the future.
If you are facing a dispute over your child's education, please contact our specialist Family Law team on 01225 48700 or e-mail email@example.com