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Choosing Schools for Separated Parents - Conflict Resolution

Why you might consider a specific issue order by Lauren Townson banner

If you and your ex-partner both have parental responsibility for your child, you both have a right to be involved in matters concerning their welfare, and this includes matters concerning their education.

You may find that you and your ex-partner cannot agree on the right school, and you do not know how to resolve the matter.

If possible, it is helpful for you and your ex-partner to have an open and honest conversation about your choice of school, to see if an early resolution can be reached.

However, sometimes, an agreement simply cannot be reached, and consideration must be given to other options such as Mediation and issuing Court Proceedings.

If an agreed school cannot be identified, you are able to apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order.

The purpose of that application would be for the Court to intervene and make the final decision as to which school your child is to attend. As with any application to the Court which involves children, the Court will be guided by the welfare checklist as set out in section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989. The welfare checklist directs the Court to take the following into account in determining the matter;

What will a Court Consider when Choosing Schools for Separated Parents

  1. Ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of their age and understanding);
  2. A child’s physical, emotional and educational needs;
  3. Likely effect on the child of any change in circumstances;
  4. A child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics which the Court considers relevant;
  5. Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  6. How capable each of the child’s parents, and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting the child’s needs; and
  7. Range of powers available to the Court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

The welfare of the child is the Court’s paramount consideration, and the Court will make a decision which the Court considers to be in the best interests of the child, taking into account the above.

If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on the choice of school, it is important to seek early legal advice as to the options available to you, to resolve the matter in a timely manner. Leaving such a decision to the last minute is likely to increase stress at what is already a period of change for your child.

Please contact the Family Team at Marsden Rawsthorn for advice.

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