What Happens When Co-Parents Cannot Agree on Schooling Issues?26th August 2019

As the end of the summer holidays quickly approach us, many will be turning their minds to their child starting school, moving schools or even applying for their first school or nursery place. It can seem like such a daunting prospect, deciding where your child should go to school.

In fact, it’s such a huge consideration, many people chose their home town and location based on the local schools. Whether it’s a decision about state or private schools, church or community school, the pros and cons of sending a young child to nursery or pre-school, which secondary school to choose or how much weight to attach to the Ofsted tables; it’s a huge decision and one which can take its toll even on the happiest of families.

Most parents have parental responsibility for their child, even if unmarried, meaning that important decisions in the child’s life (school, medical treatment, religion) have to be made jointly. If you are a separated parent, these decisions can cause grave disagreements. Regarding schooling, there may be disparities between your incomes, you may live in different locations or you may simply have very different religious beliefs or other opinions.

Where a dispute arises, the first step is for you both to talk to each other. To be considerate of each other’s views, listen to each other and above all, place the needs of your child before your own wishes. In most cases, an amicable solution will be found, even if extra family members or friends can be called upon to help with your discussions.

Next, if you still remain in dispute, then we could assist you by communicating with the other parent in a constructive manner to try and negotiate a solution. We are members of Resolution which means that we will always do our best to avoid unnecessary conflict and costs, especially in cases that involve children. We have dealt with cases like these before and we will be able to advise on the likely outcome if a Judge were deciding the case. A good Mediation Service may also be able to help expertly guide you towards an agreement. We can refer you to local Mediators who we know well and trust with our clients.

Finally, if an agreement has still not been possible then we can advise you in relation to the legal process to obtain a Specific Issue Order. This is an Order which can be made by the Family Court under the Children Act 1989. The Order would dictate a specific action which should take place regarding a child; it can effectively take precedence over the parental responsibility of one parent (or both).

Ultimately, where you cannot decide on a specific issue regarding your child, the court will decide for you. This sounds like quite a scary prospect but you can rest assured that the court will have the welfare, needs and best interests of your child at the forefront of any decision, and the court will listen to your concerns as well as taking expert opinion, where necessary. If your child is old enough and/or able to provide their own wishes and feelings then these can also be considered by the court.

We can prepare the court application and any evidence for you as well as representing you at court, taking the stress out of the process as much as we can.

If you have a dispute with your co parent regarding schooling or any other aspect of your child’s life, please contact Gemma Holmes, one of our Family solicitors over the phone 0191 731 4619 or by email gemma.holmes@emgsolicitors.com. We can offer you a 30 minute free, no-obligation consultation on all of your family law queries.