We blogged a few weeks back about how the courts approach conflicts between parents when it comes to deciding where a child or children from a divorced or separated family should go to school. Today we discuss another recent decision that looks at that same issue in the hopes that it gives parents an idea of how these issues are handled.
Parents unable to agree on a school
The urgent motion was brought before the court by the mother, who was looking to enroll the child at a school in Etobicoke, while the father was looking to enroll the child at a school in Georgetown. The parties, unable to determine which option would be in the best interest of the child, turned to the courts for guidance. The courts asked the parents once more to try to resolve the matter on their own, but they were unable to do so.
What led to the dispute?
The child is almost five years old and will be starting kindergarten in September. The parents have equal parenting time with the child. At this time the mother lives in the matrimonial home in Toronto but plans to move to Etobicoke in March 2021. The father lives in Georgetown.
The child attends daycare in Etobicoke because it is close to where both parents work. However, the mother left the job, while the father has a career change planned as well.
The mother’s position
The mother is of the opinion that the child should stay in the same area as her daycare and where the mother will be living. She said she owns property in the area and is able to register the child for school there. She also said that the school in Etobicoke is closer to where the child’s extracurricular activities are. The mother’s school of choice also has before and after school care on-site.
The father’s position
The father feels that his school of choice is a superior school. He said he takes the child to all of her extracurricular activities and cares for her when she is sick. He also said that the support of his sister and brother in law are available in Georgetown.
The best interests of the child are paramount
The court considered the position of each of the parties, including the father’s statements about handling all of the child’s extracurricular activities. The court also considered the father’s research findings that the school of his choice had better rankings than the mother’s school of choice. However, the court pointed out that a 2012 British Columbia decision indicated ranking systems were not an indicator of what is in the best interest of the child. In addition, the father’s research was hearsay and could not be considered as evidence in any regard.
The court noted that the child loves and is close to both parents. The court wanted to keep the child’s parenting schedule as close as possible to what it currently is. The father admitted that it would be difficult for the mother to get to and from his school of choice once she had a job. As a result, the parenting schedule in place would have to change. This would not be the case if the child were to go to school in Etobicoke. For this reason, the court sided with the mother in ordering that she enroll at the mother’s choice of school.
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