Parents are naturally concerned about the legal rights and responsibilities in relation to children’s schooling and divorce can have an impact on the role each parent has for their child or children at school. Below, we uncover the key areas on how separation can affect schooling and what you can do:
Choice of schools
What impact does divorce have on the choice of schools?
In general, provided the children are doing well at school and (if applicable) the fees can afford to be paid, the status quo should continue. Any changes to the children’s education should be a joint decision taken by those with parental responsibility.
If the parents can’t agree on the choice of school, then an application may be made to the Court. The Courts will consider what is in the best interests of the child and will therefore look at the ability of the parents to sustain the child’s attendance (such as an ability to pay school fees or travel to school etc) and any other practical considerations.
If a parent has attempted to change the status quo and change a child’s school without informing the other then an emergency application can be made to restore the position. In most circumstances, an application can take up to 6 months to be finally determined by the Court and so it is important to ensure that the appropriate preparation is taken.
Should the cost of school uniform be part of the child maintenance or a separate item?
The cost of school uniform this is always a thorny issue. There are no hard and fast rules and so each case will probably differ. The important issue is to establish what the agreement is; it is quite simple to include a provision in any agreement that the paying will pay a fixed fee in September each year towards the uniform but it is often difficult to renegotiate this into an agreement after the event.
Who has access to school reports and letters?
Separated parents have joint and equal rights to all information provided by the school. Thus, the school is obliged to send out duplicate reports, fixture lists, letters etc. Schools are sometimes reluctant to do this for reasons of cost but persistence will often result in eventual cooperation from them.
Who can go to sports days and assemblies?
Both parents are jointly and equally entitled to attend all assemblies, sports days etc and both should try to go wherever possible for the sake of the child.
Schools will often be reluctant to become involved in disputes between the parents as they will consider that their priority is to look after the child. They will often only provide a report confirming a child’s development at school and are generally reluctant to comment upon the parental care unless there is a specific impact on school work.
Contact Arrangements for Parents
When parents are unable to be civil to one another, it is often useful for contact arrangements to begin with a parent collecting a child from school and to end when the school day begins. This does of course mean that the parents will have the flexibility at work to start late when the child begins school and of course finish early at the end of the school day.
It is possible to make an application to Court to resolve issues that arise but it will often be more cost-effective for an agreement to be reached either through the parties directly, through mediation or through collaborative methods.
We have recently had a case whereby the parties used arbitration to determine which secondary school a child should attend. This proved to be a very effective way to resolve the issue as the matter was determined in just under 3 months.
We can provide advice whether in the background or through formal representation to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken. Feel free to contact us today on 01727 734260 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.