School Applications

The school admission window for 2022/2023 is fast approaching with the application deadlines for those living specifically in Cardiff, ranging from November 2021 to January and February 2022. Parents, therefore, have a big decision to make in relation to their children’s future schooling.

What do separated parents do if they cannot agree which school their child is to attend?

Selecting a school for your child is difficult enough as it is without having to deal with another parent disagreeing with the choice that you make. However, this does occur and often, separated parents find themselves in a situation whereby they have no choice but to ask the Court to determine this issue for them.

The starting point would be that both parents discuss the proposed schools together as this is a parental responsibility decision (legal definition – “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”).

Who has parental responsibility?

  • Biological mothers automatically have parental responsibility.
  • Fathers who are married to or are in a civil partnership with the mother automatically have parental responsibility and this will not cease upon divorce or dissolution of the civil partnership.
  • Second female parents who are married to or are in a civil partnership with the biological mother at the time of conception.
  • Fathers who are named on the child’s birth certificate have parental responsibility.
  • Where there is a parental responsibility agreement in place with the mother, where a parental responsibility order has been obtained from the Court, where there is a residence order in place prior to 22nd April 2014 or where you are named as the resident parent on a Child Arrangements Order.

Therefore, when a decision has to be made in relation to which school a child is to go to, both parental responsibility holders must be in agreement.

What happens if there is no agreement?

It is always best for an agreement to be reached between both holders of parental responsibility, however, sometimes, this does not happen and an application will have to be made to the Court so that a Judge can determine where the child goes to school.

A Judge will look at what is in the child’s best interest and will consider the welfare checklist to determine if the school in dispute is right or not for the child.

If you have concerns that the other party with parental responsibility will register your child at a school that you do not agree with, an application for a Specific Issue Order (to ask the Court to determine that the child should go to a specific school) or a Prohibited Steps Order (to ask the Court to prohibit a child from going to a specific school) or both should be made.

Read more on Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps Orders:

If you have any queries in relation to this or if you need assistance from one of our experienced team, please do not hesitate to contact us.

T: 029 2034 2233

Author: Fay Jones
Fay Jones
Published: 28/10/21