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advice on school choice (divorced parents)

(7 Posts)
chocoraisin Tue 11-Nov-14 19:57:11

XH has refused to meet with me to talk about school choice for our DS1. He's reception age and is currently home educated.

XH agreed to trial homeschooling (in writing, by email) and has had zero input into it so far. For background, he was EA, FA and SA during our marriage. No police reports but plenty of notes documenting this from DV agency and GP post split.

XH was seeing the boys e.o.w but has recently stopped as his new DW is about to (or indeed, may already have had) a baby. He's only ever had them for a full week twice in the 2.5 years since we split. No residency or contact orders in place. I'm not actually sure how contact will progress once it resumes. He is suggesting it will be e.o.w but my gut feeling is that it will drop off.

In brief, I want to decide where to send DS to school next year without getting his permission first.

The reasons for not sending DS1 to a regular reception class this sept were that a) he was too young (summer born) b) he thrives in Home Ed environments and c) GP advised waiting as he suffers from anxiety and he felt that he was not ready for school. I have this recorded in a letter from the GP for the local school where we live now, where his place has been deferred.

I am now moving house about 10mins away to a better part of the city, and slightly closer to DS's dad (but still a 45min drive). So I'm looking ahead to next year and want to apply for a place at school just in case DS1 is ready to go - applications are being made now.

The state primary in the new area has a waiting list of 18kids for his year group, and don't think he'll make the roll. So I want to apply to the Steiner Academy (which is infinitely better in my opinion, for DS and his needs anyway).

So here's the problem: XH has said in the past that he won't support sending the kids to Steiner, but won't give a reason. He does support HE and as I've mentioned, takes no role in this, nor does he ask what I do with DS1. As far as I can tell he wants me to either continue HE full time or send him to a local primary. These are polar opposite approaches and I feel Steiner is a good middle ground, I would be willing to review and look at state primary again when he's about 7 (3 years from now) so I'm not seeing this as a permanent decision, more about meeting his needs right now.

Sorry this is so long... I want to know how a court would approach it if I get a place at Steiner, send my DS, support my decision with evidence from our GP and the lack of a place at our local primary anyway... but XH tries to stop me. Can he stop me? Would he have to actually tell me why/talk to me? I have no idea what his objections are. I have asked. He's won't speak to me on the phone or in person or attend mediation.

Thanks for advice, I really just want to get on with parenting our children now and make plans for their future. We also have a younger DS2 this all impacts on. The fact that his dad refuses to engage with me at all makes it impossible to act as coparents, but I am afraid I'll look like an obstructive/vindictive ex if he takes me to court sad am I just being paranoid?

STIDW Wed 12-Nov-14 07:55:31

Having Parental Responsibility gives both parents equal responsibility and rights to carry out those responsibilities. That means important decisions such as where a child attends school need to be agreed.When no agreement can be reached either parent may apply to court for a decision.

So your ex could apply for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the move or you could apply for a Specific Issue Order to settle the issue. There is a requirement that in most cases the applicant arranges a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting before a court will hear a case.

A judge listens to both parents' arguments and the child's welfare is paramount in making his/her decision. You would need evidence to support your choice of school. GP's letter would help but other evidence would be Ofsted reports

STIDW Wed 12-Nov-14 07:59:52

Sorry I meant to say there is an expectation that parents try to resolve matters between themselves before going to court and really you should write formally to your ex setting out your proposal and seeking his agreement. The letter can then be used as evidence that you have been reasonable.

chocoraisin Wed 12-Nov-14 08:59:04

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.

If I do that and provide Ofstead and other strong evidence in favour, as well as evidence that DS1 wouldn't get a place/thrive in the local school - but XH comes back and says flat out no without explaining any reasons (as he has done before), then offers a pointless 'solution' such as send them to the local primary (which is definitely full) what happens then? Do I have to hold off starting school until it's resolved? In almost all my dealings with XH he has been more interested in being in charge than knowing what the DC need sad Mediation when we split up wasn't approved due to emotional abuse and bullying on his part.

The last time he disagreed with school (this time last year) he suggested that our DS1 should change his primary address and go live with him so that he could go to a school XH approves of. He's had no more than48 hours contact a fortnight with either child in 2.5 years (before DS2 was born). Am I right to assume that this would be out of the question, if he made the suggestion to a court? The resolution that time was home education, which is fine for now, but I hate feeling like he can constantly threaten to take a child away if he wants to exercise his PR. It shouldn't make any difference but his new DW has a newborn now - does this affect anything at all?

STIDW Wed 12-Nov-14 15:57:58

There is no reason why you can't apply to schools in the meantime until the issue can be resolved, although some schools will insist on both parents signing an application when there are fees involved.

Generally speaking children need many routines and their established bonds to remain the same in order to maintain their sense of security. It's an uphill struggle changing the established arrangements for children unless there is impartial professional (school, social services, doctor etc) evidence children aren't surviving satisfactorily in the care of a parent. Therefore the probability of a court making an order for your child to live with the father is low.

In the unlikely event the child was taken away it is possible to apply to court without notice or with abridged notice for interim residence and the child to be returned immediately.

Heebiejeebie Sat 15-Nov-14 07:19:37

Moving him at 7 from a Steiner will mean that he hasn't started to read or write and may feel pretty different to his peers.

twizzleship Sat 15-Nov-14 19:29:02

if you have to take it to court to get your dc into a school and exh decides to argue against it.....make sure your solicitor points out the lack of involvement from the father so far in respect of the dc education and also in his personal life. make it clear that you need to be in a stable and independent position with regards to your finances and exh cannot provide that. make it clear that his demands are just a continuation of his abusive behaviour towards you and not about putting your sons needs first - as he's already proved.

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