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Can I Change my Children’s School without the other Parents Agreement or Permission?

Can I Change my Children’s School without the other Parents Agreement or Permission?

Can I Change my Children’s School without the other Parents Agreement or Permission?

Ideally parents should decide together, which type of school is best suited for their child. This can  include fee paying, state or independent school education, a religious or non-religious school, and for some their choice or availability may come down to certain sporting, or  musical facilities a certain school can offer.

Single or separated parents have the task of choosing the right school for their children. There are an array of options available to parents. Usually, choosing the right school for your child is a simple process. However, for many parents disagreements arise over which school, their child should attend. Separated parents can disagree over the location and distance of a particular school from either parent’s home that can make life even more difficult.

It is important to note that a parent cannot unilaterally change their child’s school without the consent of anyone else who holds Parental Responsibility this is usually the other parent or Guardian.

Who holds Parental Responsibility

Parents who hold Parental Responsibility, have an equal right and say in which school their child attends. Usually both parents have Parental Responsibility for their child. Mothers have Parental Responsibility automatically and Father’s acquire it by either being named on the child’s birth certificate (after 1 December 2003) or being married to the child’s mother.

Where a dispute arises, the first step is for you both parents, is 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.

What Initial  Steps can be taken If you Disagree

Your matter could be resolved by seeking the right legal advice from an experienced family solicitor.

Attend family mediation – Mediation can be flexible and parents can have many sessions to explore various options in a neutral and structured setting with a trained mediator.  If appropriate and the child is old enough and you both agree, the child  can attend to have their voice heard. A mediation plan or agreement can be drawn up, but this is not legally binding. It is important to note that Mediation is also requirement for parties to attend in many cases before a parent can make an application to the Court.

Benefits of Agreeing A Parenting Plan

A  Parenting Plan is a written plan  and can assist with  clarifying arrangements between parents after they separate and it covers the practical issues of parenting and can include the following, including other points to suit your family.

  1. Childcare Arrangements
  2. Holidays and Special Dates
  3. Extended Family and Friends
  4. Schedule Changes
  5. Education
  6. Healthcare
  7. Expenses

A parenting plan is not automatically legally binding. However, there is the option of formalising the agreement through a Consent Order.

If You remain in Dispute

If your issues  still cannot be resolved,  then as the last recourse  would be to file an application under s8 of the Children Act 1989. This allows a parent to make an  application to the Family Court  for the following:-

Specific Issue Order –  this will mean  that you can and will be asking the Court to make decisions dealing with something specific,  such as the child schooling and which school they should attend or their upbringing.

Prohibited Steps Order –  is an Order to stop someone from exercising their Parental Responsibility for a child. A Prohibited Steps Order can therefore be useful for parents who think that the other parent is going to move their child from one school to another without their consent. It is possible to ask a court to make an Order to stop this.

Both of the above Orders can be applied for at the same time, or during an application for a Child Arrangements Order. In applications for a Child Arrangements Order you will be asking the Court to define the arrangements of the children.

In any application, to the Court, parents should consider how the school or change in school will affect their child, and whether there will be a positive or negative impact. This will be a key factor for the Court in determining any decision they make.

It is important to remember that the Court will consider a range of factors when reaching a decision, and that a decision could be made that may not be in your favour.  The Family Courts paramount consideration will be what is in the best interests of the child.

If you  are faced with the issues above, our family lawyers  can help and if you wish to find out more about them or need advice on your position, please contact our children team.

Speak to our Family Law experts

Reena Vadera is a senior associate in the Family team and can be contacted on 01895 207 819 or reena.vadera@ibblaw.co.uk.

To contact the team please email familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk or call 03456 381 381.