Q: My daughter lives with my ex-wife. Without even discussing the matter with me she announced last week that she is going to move our daughter from her existing secondary school to another school in September. I am not happy about this arrangement as I have heard less than favourable reports about this other school. I have tried to talk to my ex-wife but she won't listen and says it is nothing to do with me because our daughter lives with her. What can I do?
A: You will need to make an application to the family Court under the Children Act for a Prohibited Steps Order.
A Prohibited Steps Order usually involves one parent trying to stop the other from taking steps and/or making decisions. Even though your daughter lives with your ex-wife you still have parental responsibility for her (ie. legal standing in her life) and therefore you are legally entitled to be involved in any important welfare decisions in her life, which includes her education and the school she attends.
The Court would consider the welfare check list when looking at this application which will include details such as your daughter's age, any harm she is at risk of suffering by changing schools (for example - does the proposed new school have the same syllabus or will this mean your daughter having to have additional lessons in some subjects), the practical arrangements such as whether your ex-wife is able to transport your daughter to the new school and whether a change in school is in your daughter's best interests. Ultimately if you cannot both agree the Court will override one of you and determine the school she is to attend. It is therefore advisable that you discuss this matter with a family law specialist as soon as possible.