With many primary schools opening their doors to children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 last week, many separated parents are finding it difficult to find agreement about their child going back to school.
Because this is such a contentious issue, with conflicting views points it can be difficult to know what to do for the best and to even come to an agreement about what to do.
Questions such as should my child go back to school, is it safe for them and how do I know if the school is properly social distancing are common, but if you’re separated you’re probably wondering what to do if you want to send your children back but your ex doesn’t or vice versa.
There’s no doubt that this is a difficult decision for anyone to make, but this can be even more difficult with the added stress and pressure trying to agree with your ex.
Because UK Government guidance is changing so often, it can be difficult to have clear answers to all of the questions above around safety. But we are seeing increasing numbers of parents calling our Family Solicitors and asking about what their rights are when they can’t reach an agreement about their children going back to school.
If one parent wants to send the child back to school but the other doesn’t agree, it is more than likely that the issue will need to ultimately be decided by the Court.
Given the current pressure on the court system since Covid-19, if it’s appropriate and if both of you agree, you should try to resolve this issue using an independent mediator or through the Children Arbitration Scheme. By agreeing to mediation or arbitration, you can avoid going to Court, as the decision of the arbitrator will be binding on you both and can be turned in to a binding court order.
If mediation or arbitration isn’t suitable, or if one of you doesn’t want to attend, you’ll probably end up going to Court in order for the specific issue to be resolved. If you want your child to go back to school, you’ll need to make an application for the Court to decide on this specific issue. This is called a Specific Issue application.
Alternatively, if you’re against your child going back to school and you want to stop your ex sending them back, you’d need to make an application for a Prohibited Steps Order, to stop your child from going back to school.
The Court would then make the decision for you both. The Court’s starting point will be to make a decision based on what’s in the child’s best interests.
If you are having issues agreeing with your ex-partner whether your child should go back to school, we can help you to try to come to an agreement or help you go to Court if you need to, so you can ask the Court to decide.
Talk to one of our experienced Family Solicitors today.