After a divorce or separation, parenting decisions made during the relationship, such as choice of schools for children, can become matters that are now in dispute. What happens when parents disagree on school choice? Does shared or joint custody school choice or shared custody school choice, differ compared to sole custody school choice?

Parents Disagree on School Choice

Naturally such a situation can cause a great deal of anxiety, stress and unhappiness not just to the parents, but also to the children involved. The children can feel unsettled and unsure of their future so a quick resolution is important and usually better for all.

Issues associated with a child’s education can become the subject of Family Law negotiations and Court proceedings when parents cannot reach an agreement in relation to the following matters:

  • Which school (primary and secondary) the child should attend
  • Whether the child should attend an independent, religions or government school
  • Who should pay for school expenses, including fees, books and uniforms.

It is important to know that just because a child primarily lives with one parent, that parent does not have the right to decide where the child attends school.

Unless a sole responsibility order is in place, decisions about schooling need to made by both parents or by the family court if the parents can’t agree.

The court will take the child’s views into consideration and will likely act on them, provided the child is of an age to express a view and has not been influenced by a parent and is mature enough to understand the implications of their view. However, the court may also depart from the child’s view if it feels it is in the best interests of the child.

The court may take into consideration any former agreement by the parents (such as a signed enrollment form) about a child attending a particular school.

The most overriding principle that will govern any court decision about which school a child attends is what is in the best interest of the child.

This barely scratches the surface of what is a very complicated issue.  However, our family lawyers are best placed to advise you as they have extensive experience in this area of family law. We are able to assist you in ensuring that your child’s educational needs are met.