When Parents Cannot Agree on a School

When Parents Cannot Agree on a School

In this video, Page Provan Managing Director, Bruce Provan discusses what you need to know when separated parents cannot agree on the school for their child or children.


My name is Bruce Provan, I’m the Managing Director of Page Provan, Family and Fertility Lawyers. We’re a firm of lawyers that practice exclusively in Family and Fertility Law in central Brisbane.

But we have clients from all over Australia, in fact, we have a number of clients from overseas. I want to talk to you today about the situation that sometimes arises where parents can’t agree on which school their child or children is going to attend.

What usually happens is that parents have a discussion to try to reach an agreement, but it is not uncommon for them not to be able to do so. So what happens then?A couple of things can happen.

Firstly, if it does happen, you should consult a lawyer for some advice, and we could advise you about your options, and also, if the matter has to proceed to court, the likely outcome. Now, each case is different, and it’s hard to say in every case what the outcome might be.

It just depends on your particular circumstances. But there’s a number of things to take into account in determining which school the children attend. The big one is obviously the cost of schooling and whether the parents can afford to send their children to a private school and how that cost is going to be shared.

Another major factor is the location of the school and whether that is close to the residence of each of the parents. Another factor that often comes up is the one parent wants their child to attend the school that they attended.

So what I generally advise clients is that if they can’t agree, the first step is that they should consult with a family dispute resolution practitioner, which is a mediator that assists in relation to parenting matters. Now, I find that most disputes in relation to children can be resolved at mediation.

If they can’t, then the final option for parents is to make an application to court to let a judge decide which school the child is going to go to. But those sorts of applications can be very expensive, and they can take a long time to go to court.

So if you’ve had the discussion with your former partner or spouse and there’s no agreement, it’s important to try to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

You don’t want to be left in a situation where there’s only weeks or months left until the child is due to commence either secondary school or primary school, and the issue has to be resolved because it will take some time to get a hearing from the court.

Obviously, it’s far preferable if parents can manage to reach an agreement between themselves because that is going to save them a lot of time and stress and money, and in most cases, the matter can be resolved through negotiation.

So if you’re in that situation, please consult with an experienced family lawyer. Our firm is Page Provan, Family and Fertility Lawyers and if we can assist you, please contact us.

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International Academy of Family Lawyers - IAFL
Mediator Standards Board