Tuesday, 20 September 2011

When parents can't agree schooling

Over the next few weeks, many parents will be applying for secondary school places for their children and in some cases, arranging for their children to sit entrance exams.  It is not unusual for parents to disagree which school a child should attend, or what the order of preference should be, and when it is such an important issue which potentially has a significant impact upon a child's future, the discussions can sometimes become quite frought.
I am often contacted by parents to ask who can decide in the event they can't agree, and whether they can just go ahead and make the application without the co-operation of the other parent.  The simple answer is that where both parents have Parental Responsibility (which most parents have), neither has a right of veto, and the decision needs to be agreed.  In some circumstances, the courts can make a Specific Issue Order relating to which exams a child will sit, or which school they will attend, but the courts will always try to get the parents to reach a compromise first.  Mediation can also be useful in helping the parents discuss the various pros and cons of each option, and helping the parents consider the others point of view.  Obviously if having done that, they can't agree the legal system can help.

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