Parental dispute about where children go to school

Published 29 Jun 2017

Separation and divorce are often full of trials and disagreements, and unfortunately when children are involved, this tension can often seep through and have an effect on them. When ex-spouses are in the process of making parenting arrangements, they will be faced with a number of decisions regarding the care of their children. So what do you do if you can't agree on a major issue, such as where your child goes to school? Rather than allowing the problem to get out of hand, seek help from a family lawyer as soon as possible to get to know your options.

Why do parents disagree about schooling?

Making agreements about parenting can be one of the most challenging parts of separation, sometimes more so than even property settlement. As a result, children can get stuck in the middle when it comes to debates around where they get their education. Ralph Glezer, Law Institute of Victoria's Family Law chairman, explained to The Age Victoria that this can be influenced by the parents' feeling towards one another rather than a genuine belief about the right option for their child.

"It might be a residual dislike of the other parent, where one says 'I've got as much right if not more right to decide where our son or daughter goes'. In other cases there is a genuine belief that one school is better than the other," he said.

However, President of the Australian Principals Federation Julie Podbury notes that sometimes the disagreement can stem from a misunderstanding around the differences of public and private schools. 

"Often it would be a case of getting a non-consenting parent to understand that you weren't putting them through the gates of hell to put them through a public school," she told The Age.

Dealing with a schooling dispute

Regardless of the reason, it's important that such disputes are resolved quickly to avoid undue stress on the child and prevent it from getting in the way of their education. lf you cannot come to an agreement and mediation doesn't help, it may be necessary to apply for a parenting order with the family law court. There are a number of considerations to bear in mind during this process, such as whether the child is old enough to have their own opinion, whether a particular option is practical, and whether a change in circumstances is in the best interests of the child.

To help you negotiate the matter effectively, consulting a legal expert should always be your first course of action.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

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