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Specific issue court order - has anyone tried?

(24 Posts)
Ebullient Sun 07-Jul-13 21:03:31

Hi ladies,

my ex has just blocked DS's going to a school, Whitgift, where DS got a place from Sep and which he's absolutely in love with. His dad forces him to stay at his current prep, which has made him miserable. DS is very distressed and refuses point blank to return to his prep in Sep. We have all attempted to make his dad change his mind but he doesn't listen.

A follower mumsnetter, who's a lawyer and to whom I'm very grateful, has suggested that I look into specific issue court order.

Before I speak to my solicitor tomorrow I was wondering if anyone of you has got any experience with it. I am especially concerned about how long it takes for the court to pass a ruling and whether this will secure us a place from Sep. There's a boy on the waiting list and I'm afraid once the place has been refused (Ex turned it down on Friday) the waiting list boy will automatically have it.

Also I am not sure whether I should call Whitgift to tell that I'm applying to court to have this issue resolved, and if the school would please keep the place because chances are very high that the court will approve of it.

My solicitor even though excellent, charges a fortune per hour and I'd like if possible to avoid consulting him. Can anyone suggest a good law firm with reasonable rates in Central London?

Thanks in advance to everyone.

NatashaBee Sun 07-Jul-13 21:16:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Labro Sun 07-Jul-13 21:20:26

Call the school immediately and explain the situation. Its very unlikely that your ex can actually do this without obtaining a prohibited steps order himself.

titchy Sun 07-Jul-13 21:46:11

Suggest you post on legal board.

EDMNWiganSalfordandBlackpool Sun 07-Jul-13 21:49:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EDMNWiganSalfordandBlackpool Sun 07-Jul-13 21:53:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ebullient Sun 07-Jul-13 22:05:06

Oh, thanks so much everyone!!

I especially liked this bit by EDMNWiganSalfordandBlackpool 'Legally as far as I am aware ex can not cancel his place if you can't agree on his education, the court must then decide'.

We had all last week to sign the formal letter of acceptance. He was dodging it and dodging it, then emailed the school last minute on Friday at 5.30 pm saying we declined the offer because it was inconvenient for the family to move south. Bastard. It was all perfectly convenient.

So the admission people won't read his email till, I assume, 9 am Monday. I'll call right then and tell I will engage the court to decide this issue. And then I'll call a couple of solicitors.

Do you think it's important to stick to the one I use for divorce or anyone really? My ex and I have separated but haven't yet agreed on finances and so haven't formally divorced.

Labro Sun 07-Jul-13 22:57:08

Ok - sign the formal acceptance and fax it to the school first thing monday morning. When you speak to them on the phone, asertain whether they actually need both parents signatures (some schools don't)
If they don't require his signature, then you simply accept the place on your sons behalf as the resident parent and its him who has to apply for a prohibited steps order to stop you doing it, you don't have to do anything.
If they definitely require both signatures, then you'll have to sort out a specific issues order.
If he is responsible for the fees, explain to Whitgift that you are losing this financial support and find out about their bursary system.
Don't jump the gun with solicitors etc, speak to admissions, the headmaster and the bursar first.

Ebullient Mon 08-Jul-13 11:15:58

Oh, God damn it!! I've lost.

Even the specific issue court order won't do anything at this point. The school doesn't want to wait for the decision to be made by the court. It's tool late in the year and it interferes with their planning, I was told.

The head of admissions was rather harsh on the phone and not willing to accommodate. sad Understandably, they want the place to be filled up asap.

Labro - yes, the form must be signed by both parents because we applied jointly.

Anyway, ladies, I'm treating myself to a glass of wine now..

Ebullient Mon 08-Jul-13 11:19:17

Thank you so much everyone for trying to help!!

It makes a big difference to have this kind of support in difficult circumstances. Thank you!

Labro Mon 08-Jul-13 11:44:26

What are your options now? I'm assuming ds is yr 6? Bear in mind that for 13+ entry many schools will either have held their pretests or be closing their lists to pretest September/November time. Formulate a plan, some schools are more accomodating than others with the split parent issue. Stay strong and make sure your ex explains his actions to your ds!

Copthallresident Mon 08-Jul-13 12:21:33

Ebullient "Oh God damn it, I have lost" that's worrying wording. When DB got divorced and his partner was being unreasonable and trying to turn his DCs against him, the Conciliation service gave him the best advice he had in the whole process. Don't discuss any issues you are having with your partner with your children, even if you feel you are being unfairly bad mouthed or they are behaving badly. Make it clear that you and your partner will agree what is best for them and you do not expect them to take sides. They will appreciate you being a respite from the trauma of the divorce, they will be able to relax with you knowing you are not going to involve them in your fights. I am sure you have your son's best interests at heart and your DH is being an arse but remember this is not about you and him. The Conciliator advised my DB that they would come to appreciate that he was the one that had cared about them most by not involving them. My DNs, now in their 20s, barely speak to their mother because they got so fed up with her bitterness towards DB and all the games she tried to involve them with, it is always DB they stay with. I am sure that is not you but that wording sounded a bit hmm

Ebullient Mon 08-Jul-13 12:46:57

Labro, just PMed you. Yes, DS is registered for StP. Though not yet for Kings. We have another month.

Copthallresident - thanks, it's good piece of advice. I understand that it's best for the children not to have them involved. I am not sure it's always possible when it concers them directly. DS son is 10 and he's able to jusdge by himself.

For instance, when this whole episode happened and he was waiting the whole week for his dad to say yes or no to the school. His dad was dodging it and dodging it. Then at the very last moment he emailed the school and turned the place down. DS son and I were together on the bus coming home from school. He was like, 'Mum, mum am I going? Am I going? It's 5 pm. Has he answered?' Here I receive the email. What shall I do, hide from him? The expression on my face tells it all. No, I don't hide. I tell him as gently as I can that no, honey it doesn't look like you're going. Then we spent the whole evening in tantrum and tears because DS refuses to return to him prep in Sep. He sends hundred texts and tries for an hour to reach his dad to talk to him about his frustration and pain. And what do you think his dad does? Nothing. He just ignores DS. Again, how can I avoid showing my emotion and my concern for the child? How can I hide my disgust with his dad? I wasn't very verbal, just said I agree that he was an arse. DS and I were on the same emotional plane - both so frustrated and so disappointed. Did I have to fake it and say, 'well honey, don't worry, we'll work it out'.

I am more used to talking about solutions rather than about my feelings. And so I'm like this with my kids. We only said it a few times what an arse and coward he was not to face anger and disappointment of DS. Then we moved to solutions. DS and I brainstormed hard and long. He's very sensible and mature. I came up with my plan B and he was happy with it. He even agreed to go to his prep as long as he felt I was behind him.

The court thing was his decision he slept over it and said, 'Mum, please do it. He cannot do this to us'.

Am I involving him too much? Shall I cocoon him more into, 'honey, don't worry, mummy will sort it all out', kind of thing?

prh47bridge Mon 08-Jul-13 13:09:31

As they are an independent school they are free to do pretty much what they want. However, you could:

- Try the headmaster. He may be more accommodating than the head of admissions (but note that I don't have any personal knowledge)

- If that fails try the chair of the governors

- If you feel like being aggressive you could tell them that their stance amounts to discrimination against single parent families and you will take action under the Equality Act unless they relent. I'm not convinced such action would succeed but the threat may be enough to make them keep the place open while you sort out an SIO

Copthallresident Mon 08-Jul-13 13:10:37

I think it is more a case of you taking all of that decision making and emotion out of your son's hands. Console him yes, talk through his wishes, but, 10 is very young to be left open to feeling responsible for taking his father to court. Children are not damaged by divorce, they are damaged by feeling they are to blame in some way, for the split and the subsequent fighting, and by being caught in the middle. I feel very sorry for your son in terms of his father's treatment of him but I am sure what he wants is for you to handle all those difficult grown up negotiations and emotions, he is just a learner.....

Copthallresident Mon 08-Jul-13 13:17:32

Btw I inadvertently deleted exactly the same advice as prh. IME the agendas of admissions officers are not always entirely consistent with that of Heads. It is always worth a direct approach to a Head. I had one Head overrule an Admissions Officer on my DDs entrance exam arrangements, mind you by that point she had put DD off and she didn't take the place offered in the end. Which is another point, do you really want your son at a school that would take that attitude, doesn't bode well for the support he will get there and sadly it sounds as though you have a rocky road ahead of you with DH.

Ladymuck Mon 08-Jul-13 16:24:24

It is fairly late in the day as far as Whitgift is concerned, especially as they have broken up for summer. Year 6 starts with the Lake Garda trip, and they will have had to sort out arrangements for that, and this September will be their first major boarding intake as well. You are hopeful of a favourable outcome on an order that hasn't been presented yet, so obviously there is some risk that you will not be successful in time for September. Your son does of course have a chance at 11+ entry into any number of schools, including grammar schools which would free you up financially in the years ahead, so whilst you son is keen to leave his prep school you may be able to somehow bribe him to see the 4 months from September through as by hard work he will have his exit plan sorted.

It is obviously a difficult decision. Rather than burning any bridges at Whitgift, now is the time to proceed to finalising the divorce arrangements.

Ebullient Mon 08-Jul-13 17:51:05

Thank you so much everyone. It helps to hear all your suggestions.

Copthallresident - I'll try as much as possible to keep him out of decision making process and out of parental squabbles. I agree with you, I'm in for a rocky ride with my ex (sigh).

prh47bridge - I don't feel like involving the Headmaster. The uncertainty of being in the limbo just drains me. I far more prefer to know that this it and I can start to deal with the outcome.

We'll try for 11+. I agree with Ladymack that finalising my divorce should be my priority. Have been in touch with my solicitor today working out clear timeline for the completion.

LIZS Tue 09-Jul-13 19:14:06

Are there any alternative preps , many would be happy to take in Year 6 if he intended to stay until 13.

Ebullient Wed 10-Jul-13 06:58:44


we looked into it two years ago when he already started complaining.

Many are full. Among the available ones we visited one and he didn't like it.

I'll look into it again. He asked me to put him to his brother's school - a state primary next door. Even though it's an excellent school - the best primary in the area - I'm hardly comfortable with it. Still he insists and says he'll do any extra work needed to cover the prep syllabus with a tutor.

With Whitgift our first choice for 11+ the primary+tutors could possibly work. He'll have to keep up with the larger load to make it through the entrance exams.

LIZS Wed 10-Jul-13 09:20:58

Yes move him as he is psyched up for it, why are they at separate schools anyway ? Presumably you'll have same issue with ds2 at some point. If he passed W this year it shouldn't take much more work to do so again, but will you now be liable for a term's fees in lieu of notice? Have you given the Prep notice ?

Ebullient Wed 10-Jul-13 14:11:55

They are in separate schools because we have no money for private schools ourselves. My in-inlaws have been paying for DS1. DS2 could have been in the same prep from Reception but I, seeing the unhappiness of DS1 and knowing better school from the inside, decided against it. No one from the family minded one bit about it. The in-laws don't care about DS2.

I haven't given the notice yet, as I'm just about to take the decision to register DS1 for Year 6 at the primary school. Though I went and talked to the school this morning. They told me there'd be places from Sep and for me, having DS2 already in school, should be relatively easy to get a place.

Yes, it should be no problem for DS1 to pass Whitgift exams again. But this time I must apply as a single parent and get a bursary. Will work hard on finalising my divorce.

No, I haven't yet given notice to the prep because I hoped I could talk DS into returning to it just for one more year. But it's day 6 post his father's decision, and still refuses to even consider returning there in Sep. He asks me every day instead to put him to his brother's school.

I guess I will be liable for a term's fees. But unless I secured a place from the primary, it'd be a folly to give notice to the prep. I'll have to wait for a week to hear from the Council.

LIZS Wed 10-Jul-13 15:22:47

I meant you'll probably be liable for term at W, as well as the Prep .

Labro Wed 10-Jul-13 15:50:01

If the in laws pay the fees, then its the in laws who will be liable for the fees in lieu of notice. Check this carefully as you risk antagonising people. It may be better to leave him for year 6 or at least for the first term of year 6 so that the fees are paid.

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