Can A Parent Change A Child’s School Without The Other Parents Permission?

Can A Parent Change A Child’s School Without The Other Parents Permission?

Can A Parent Change A Child's School

Find out more about your shared parental responsibility when it comes to your child’s education, what you need to consider when deciding on a school, how a parenting plan can help, and how to reach a mutual decision that suits your child’s needs.

Making a decision about changing schools can be stressful for parents, particularly when they don’t agree. When couples separate, dealing with issues to do with the children can be complicated. The child’s welfare, care, and development are both parents’ responsibility, but what happens if one parent tries to change their child’s school without the other’s permission? Let’s take a closer look.

Parental Responsibility

The Family Law Act states that even though they are separated, both parents are still entitled to make long term decisions concerning their children. Equal shared responsibility means they both have the right to participate. Which also includes decisions about their schooling. How much time they spend with the child is not the same as their responsibilities. They both are entitled to shared responsibility, which refers to their duties, powers, and authority as a parent.

Equal shared parental responsibility will continue until the child is 18 years old.

Parenting Time

The amount of time that a child spends with each parent varies depending on the individual circumstances. Establishing the best plan for the child’s needs may not always be a standard 50:50 care arrangement. While the Australian Family Law Act states that a child has a right to enjoy a meaningful relationship with both parents, it does stipulate that they must be protected from harm. In some circumstances, it may not be in the child’s best interests to spend equal time with both parents.

Future care arrangements for children do not have to be decided in court. A parenting agreement or plan can be agreed upon via family mediation sessions. Major long-term decisions involving the children regarding their schooling, health and religious observance can be included and how much time the child will spend with each parent and where the child lives.

In some cases formalising a parental plan is necessary to ensure that decisions made between parents are legally binding and enforceable in court. A parenting order can be adapted to suit the individual needs of the relationship. A comprehensive order will include:

  • Parental Responsibility
  • Living Arrangements
  • Special Occasions
  • Changeovers
  • Parents Behaviour
  • Travel
  • Communication
  • Medical Care
  • Education

You can obtain advice from family lawyers who specialise in family law matters.

Child’s Best Interests

For conflicting parents, reaching a mutual decision can be difficult, particularly when it comes to their children. Moving from their home and changes to their financial circumstances can be overwhelming. Discussing parental issues at this time can cause tension and stress. When making decisions, parents should try to focus on what is in their child’s best interests.

The best interest focuses on the child’s safety and wellbeing and ensures that the child is protected from physical and psychological harm. It acknowledges the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents who have equal shared parental responsibility and cooperate. These principles are applied in a family law court when making parenting orders.

 

Family mediation services can help parents reach mutually agreeable decisions about their child if they cannot independently. They offer impartial advice and help parents sort out their disputes.

If you reach an agreement, family lawyers can provide specialised legal advice about family law matters and help to resolve your dispute.

Choosing A School

There are many important factors to consider when deciding on a school for your children. Ensuring your child has access to a school where they have the opportunity to achieve their education potential is paramount. Discussing options early before forming an opinion or fixed decision can assist, as alternatives can be considered. Ideally, a constructive discussion between parents can help identify the child’s needs, interests and important factors that may influence the decision.

  1. Finding a central school to both parents’ homes can make transportation to and from a lot more convenient. But location is not everything, you may find a school well situated, but it may not tick any other boxes.
  2. The school’s curriculum should be a significant consideration, particularly if your child has a flair for a particular subject or extracurricular activities. For example, some schools may have extensive programs for music, sports or drama. Finding a school that meets the needs and interests of your child can be a crucial positive step forward in their school transition.
  3. The cost of education is often a disputed issue between parents, more so when they are separated, and finances may be stretched due to changes to their living environments and legal fees. Parents need to adopt a realistic approach and consider all associated costs, not only school fees, which increase as the child grows older, such as uniforms, school levies, stationery, books, and camps.

Understandably when parents separate, a rational discussion about their child’s school may not always be possible due to conflict, hostility or domestic violence. In these cases, family mediation services may be needed to help come to a mutually agreeable decision.

Enrolment

Your child’s education is the school’s primary responsibility, and to achieve this, they generally seek the cooperation of the parents. When parents separate or divorce, inform the school immediately, as this will impact the relationship between the family, the school and the child’s welfare.

Family disputes must be finalised mutually or through court proceedings without involving the school wherever possible.

If there are family law court orders in place, the school should receive a copy so that they can continue to meet the educational and welfare needs of the child. In cases where there is an apprehended violence order where a parent may not be permitted to approach the school, the court order can help ensure that the child’s safety is maintained.

When one parent moves due to a separation or divorce, they may be tempted to move their child to a location closer to their home. Deciding to remove or commence school enrolment of your child without consent from the other parent may seriously affect your credibility and can affect your future rulings in court.

If only one parent resides in Australia and holds sole parental responsibility, then the school contractual relationship is only with that one parent. Which means that that parent signs the enrolment forms, decides on the school and does not have to consult the other parent. They will be solely responsible for paying the tuition fees and will receive information from the school, for example, reports, photos and other relevant documentation. If the parent does not have court orders that grant them parental responsibility regarding education, the enrolment will not occur.

All children of compulsory school age should be enrolled in or attending school. The Australian Department of Education promotes regular attendance as it believes it is essential to promote quality life outcomes for the students.

School Pick Up

Maintaining a good relationship at your child’s school is vital for parents, so using the school as a court-ordered contact location can be problematic. Contact should occur outside school hours as there may be occasions where a child may object to seeing a parent. A school principal has the right to keep the child on the school premises if:

  • The child does not want to leave with the other parent
  • The child becomes distressed
  • The principal fears for the safety of the child
  • The custodial parent objects to the other parent removing the child from school

School Activities

One or both parents may attend after school activities if there isn’t a court order in place. They may attend the school to speak to the principal, and, in some cases, they may be offered individual parent-teacher interviews. No parent will be excluded from school activities unless there is a specific order or behaviour that may put the safety of the student, staff or parents at risk.

School should be a safe space, and parents should make an effort to not involve the school in their family disputes.

Financial Responsibility

Regardless of where the child lives, separated parents are responsible for supporting the child financially after separation or divorce. If the child’s parents cannot agree themselves, they can apply for a child support assessment. The Department of Human Services provides the child support program, which helps to assist, collate and transfer child support payments. Payments can be made directly to the receiving parent or can be paid to a third party. This can include child care, school tuition fees, rent, food, medical expenses or other household bills. If both parents agree, then the agency can send payments directly to the school. If both parents do not approve, it is called a prescribed non-agency payment, which means only 30% of the support payments can be made to the school.

Summary

The Family Law Act states that even though they are separated, both parents are still entitled to make long term decisions concerning their children. Equal shared responsibility means they both have the right to participate. Which also includes decisions about their schooling.

Ensuring your child has access to a school where they have the opportunity to achieve their education potential is paramount.

When making decisions, parents should focus on what is in their child’s best interests, focusing on the child’s safety and wellbeing.

A parenting agreement or plan can be agreed upon via family mediation sessions. Major long-term decisions involving the children regarding their schooling, health and religious observance can be included as well as how much time the child will spend with each parent and where the child lives.

Deciding to remove or commence school enrolment of your child without consent from the other parent may seriously affect your credibility and can affect your future family court orders.

If a parent has sole parental responsibility, they can decide on the particular school, sign the enrolment forms, and do not have to consult the other parent.

Family mediation services can help parents reach mutually agreeable decisions about their child if they cannot independently. They offer impartial advice and help parents sort out their disputes.

If you reach an agreement, family lawyers can provide specialised legal advice about family law matters and help to resolve your dispute.

FAQs

1. Do You Need Both Parents Permission To Change Schools?

If a parent does not have court orders that grant them parental responsibility regarding education, they will require permission from the other parent before changing their child’s school. Deciding to remove or commence school enrolment of your child without consent from the other parent may seriously affect your credibility and can affect your future court orders.

If a parent has sole parental responsibility, they can decide on the particular school, sign the enrolment forms, and do not have to consult the other parent.

2. Does Child Support Include Private School Fees?

Child support payments can be made directly to the receiving parent or paid to a third party. This can include child care, school tuition fees, rent, food, medical expenses or other household bills. If both parents agree, then the agency can send payments directly to the school. Without both parent’s consent, it is called a prescribed non-agency payment, which means only 30% of the support payments can be made to the school. (Only in cases where the percentage of care is less than 14%.)

3. How Many Days Can A Child Miss School In Australia?

All children of compulsory school age should be enrolled in or attending school. The Australian Department of Education promotes regular attendance as it believes it is essential to promote quality life outcomes for the students. Justified reasons for absences such as illness, travel or urgent family circumstances can be negotiated with the principal. Continued unacceptable absences of more than five days in a year may result in compulsory schooling conferences or prosecution in the local court, resulting in a fine or community service.

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