School enrolment – how a court decides where your child will go to school


March 10, 2014 by Todd

If you read Saturday’s Newcastle Herald, you would have seen that some schools are already advertising for school enrolments for 2015.  Most of the time, parents are able to agree on where their child will go to school.  But what if they can’t?

What will the Court consider?

Every situation is different, and two judges can even reach a different result on the same facts.  Broadly, the following can be said:

1. The Court will not start by assuming that the child should go to the school chosen by the person with whom the child lives.  However, that may end up being important where there is nothing else to choose between the two schools.

2. The Court will not pick which school they think is the best school, where it decides that the schools being considered are broadly satisfactory.  For example, the Court is unlikely to spend much time analysing small differences in NAPLAN results.

3. The closeness of each of the schools to where the child mainly lives is relevant.

4. The convenience of the schools proposed for the person with whom the child lives is relevant.  The convenience of the other parties is relevant, to a lesser degree.

5. Where the child is young and the parties hold deeply religious views which conflict with each other, the Court may prefer a non-religious school such as a public school.

6. Where private schooling is proposed, the capacity of the person who wants the child to go to the private school to pay its fees and to indemnify the other party for those fees will be relevant.

7. The Court may also look at how seriously each party has researched each school in deciding whose evidence to prefer on certain issues, particularly where the parties say conflicting things.

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