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SA Mother Transferring Child to a Different School - What to Do?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by whoablackbetty, 7 July 2016.

  1. whoablackbetty

    whoablackbetty Active Member

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    Hello, I'll keep this brief.

    Child (6) has told step-sibling (5) that she is being moved school but her mother, has told her not to tell me or her stepmother and asked her step-sibling not to tell either of us also. The step-sibling obviously told us.

    My question is, as a self-representing, father what are my next steps?

    In the current interim orders, there is no stipulation of parental responsibility, however, in every parenting agreement over the last 3 years, it has been noted that we have equal shared parental responsibility. Even in my initiating application and the mother's response, it states equal shared parental responsibility.

    I am listed on child's schooling forms and it has been noted that proceedings have just started, however, I was informed that they cannot stop her from enrolling. They can only advise the new school of the current circumstances and it then is up to that school if they allow the enrollment.

    Next court date is scheduled early September after 11f conference.

    What are my legal preventative options here under family law? I know that there is no reasoning behind the move, as in the mother has not moved residence. It would be because I am asking for 50/50 care. All handovers occur at the school unless it is not a school day then they occur at a handover destination.

    My worry is the mother will make the school move, then the courts will issue her to move her back, yes this may seem like a win but this is not the best interest of our child. She is already shy and anxious around new people. This disruption would be detrimental for her mental health.
     
  2. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    What sort of access do you currently have?

    Is the move likely to impinge on your ability to maintain that level of access? The answers really impact on my answers, but if you want to be pro-active...

    At this point, I'd be speaking with the principal ASAP. (I know difficult in school holiday periods.) I would be asking the principal to know about the application on the grounds that

    1. As the father you, don't consent
    2. The child has not moved residence so there is no need for the move.
    3. Most importantly - you see no need for the child to be moved and you fail to see it being in the child's best interests.

    Read this
    sa.gov.au - Changing schools

    So get a meeting with the principal and go get informed. But before you do that, I think you need to contact the ex via email and inform her that you believe she intends to move the kid and you don't give consent. While you're there, remind her of the concept of shared parental responsibility.

    Just to clarify something with you...Share parental responsibility is assumed and only stops when a court orders sole parental responsibility.

    Yep, she might do it anyway and you might lose that battle, but all of a sudden, you're at least having a win along the way of trying to work with her but she is a twit. Won't help your kid but will help your case...
     
  3. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Since you're already in Court, you can also file an application in a case that seeks only an interim order to restrain the parents from changing the child's school without both parties' written consent.

    I do think you need to take the steps suggested by @sammy01 above, though, simply because a child's word is not enough to show the Court this action is actually an issue. You need some other confirmation, such as from the mother or from the school itself.
     
  4. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Also make sure all communication is via an electronic medium in writing. email / text etc. It gives certainty about dates, etc. and can't be denied like verbal communication
     
  5. MartyK

    MartyK Well-Known Member

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    Agree with above. Also, in general and for court.

    Easiest way to keep the peace and not look accusing is to play dumb, be overly pleasant, turn conversations back onto yourself and where possible never mention exactly who divulged important info you want details about. It can also minimize the impact a little if you’re dealing with parent who cross-examines the kids.

    Informal email example, will need to use your own words

    Hi (evil ex)

    Just wanted to let you know a comment was made in passing last week about (beautiful daughter) changing schools. Not sure where she got this idea from, it might have even been part of a game, but wanted to let you know it definitely was not me!

    As you know, like you, I’m very happy with (beautiful daughters) current school. She has some nice friends there, is settled and supported and I certainly would never want to cause any unnecessary disruptions for her. I’m well aware too that any decisions about (beautiful daughter) changing schools needs to be discussed and made jointly between both you and I.

    Hope this clarifies things for you.

    Thanks
     
    Brendan Munn and whoablackbetty like this.
  6. whoablackbetty

    whoablackbetty Active Member

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    Hello all,

    So I sent an email to the mother's lawyer, advising of my and the school's knowledge of the move and wanted to know her client's instructions on the matter.

    The next day in the post, I received a letter (dated prior to my email) outlining the request to move my daughter from the public school to private, with no liability costs to me, thinks in our daughters best interest due to she is not being academically challenged with her reading at public school.

    I disagreed since the daughter is 8-9 levels higher in reading since the end of last year. She is also reading 9 levels higher than what is expected of her age. The mother claimed in an affidavit only 4 weeks ago that our daughter is doing extremely well academically and she had no concerns. None of these concerns the mother 'now' has have been brought to the schools attention either.

    It's obvious it's a ploy to make 50/50 custody harder. I just want to avoid putting our daughter through the back and forth! It's bad enough the mother has involved our daughter in the school changing conversation without prior discussing it with me.

    I didn't think her lawyer would be as foolish enough to allow her to try and make these moves unless she thinks they can take advantage of my self-representation?
     
  7. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    So my thoughts - could it be an attempt to discredit you? You won't support private education? How does the change in schools impact you and your ability to pick the kid up from school? Mate, if it is 10 minutes more travel, then consider it. Mind you, I also understand that when school finishes at 3pm, you wanna be able to get there at 2.55.

    My thoughts - write back and say it is something you'd consider only after 50/50 is sorted. Emphasis how you think the kid has had enough disruption and you'd like to know how the ex is gonna make sure the change doesn't impact on your ability to maintain the 50/50 that you're expecting.

    Or just write back and say it isn't something you're prepared to agree to at the moment because the child is settled in the current school, doing well and doesn't need any further interruptions.
     
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  8. whoablackbetty

    whoablackbetty Active Member

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    The way it has worked for the last 18 months is, our daughter attends the same school as my 3 step-children. They all get picked up and dropped off mostly by my wife as I'm usually at work. The mother in the past has often kept our daughter home without being sick, tried to keep school concerts, etc., from me. However, since having our daughter attend same school as my step-children, it's alot harder for her to dis-include me of such things.

    Our daughter spends time in schoolyard with her step-siblings as well and she also has a half sister that lives with her mother that she spends time with in the kindy that is attached to the current school. It's really an unnecessary disruption to both homes.

    The mother has never had employment. She is currently claiming single parent benefits. She is pregnant with her third child. Private schooling is a long term financial commitment she clearly can not afford. She claims she wants no support from me for the school fees, which I have no issue with paying for if I did support the move.

    I honestly do not see this move being the best interest for our daughter. Academically she is flying and has come along way from where she began 18 months ago in this school.
     
  9. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    I agree with @sammy01 - write back saying you don't consent to the change of educational provider because you don't agree it's in the best interests of the child. If there's no proof of a decline in behaviour of grades in the 18 months since her enrollment, and all of her siblings attend the same school, it's unlikely your ex will garner support from the Court for the change because it will just be an unnecessary disruption to the child's life, and on top of that, if you imply agreement at any time, you'll probably end up stung for half the school fees.

    If she changes the school even in spite of your disagreement, I think you would have valid grounds for seeking remedy from the Court. It often makes rulings about which school a child attends, and I can't see a Court agreeing that it's best for a child who isn't struggling to be moved to a school away from her siblings.
     
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  10. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Mate, with court pending she would be mad to move the kid and her solicitor would have to be advising her the same.. Some punters don't listen and if she is anything like my ex, she is going to rant in court about how you can't co-operate because you never agree to her suggestions.

    Yep, I know flawed logic, and the magistrate will know it too.

    Mate, I'd write back to the solicitor and I'd write this. I do not consent to the change of schools.
     
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