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How to Choose the Child’s School

by Daniel Gloade on August 21, 2016

Usually, a child normally resides with one parent and spends some weekends with the other.  One of the principle reasons for this arrangement is the child’s schooling.  The child’s life can become more complex if he or she spends some weeknights with one parent and the remainder of those days with another.  How will the child bus between home and school if one parent is outside the bus route?  Would the child have problems completing homework if he or she does not consistently go to the same home in the evening?  How will the child participate in extra-curricular activities?

Often, the parties have a “week about” or “alternating days” arrangement when the child is very young.  When the child reaches school age, however, they feel that they must decide with which parent will the child reside during school nights.   

In the case of Hamid v Hamid, 2016 ONSC 5013 (CanLII), however, the parents did not want to abandon their “alternating days” schedule.  They still needed to choose the child’s school, however.

The Honourable Justice Douglas cited previous case law that stated that the focus should be on the child’s best interests and not the parents’ convenience.  The best interests include what choice will provide the best education and will also provide maximum contact with friends and family.

Justice Douglas listed the factors that other judges considered important in making this decision.

“The parties further agree that the factors outlined in the case of Askalan v. Taleb, [2012] ONSC 4746 are a useful guideline in considering this issue. These factors include:

  • Assessing any impact on the stability of the child;
  • Examining how many years the child has attended his or her current school;
  • Whether there is any prospect of one of the parties moving in the near future;
  • Where the child was born and raised;
  • Whether a move will mean new child care providers or other unsettling features;
  • Decisions that were made by the parents prior to the separation or at the time of separation with respect to schooling;
  • Any problems with the present school.

The Honourable Justice Douglas then considered the following factors in the case before him:

  • Travel time of each parent for each school proposed
  • Ability of the child to attend extra-curricular activities
  • Ability of each parent to provide after school care
  • Permanency of each parent’s residence generally
  • Can the child stay with his or her current classmates?
  • Which arrangement is most familiar to the child?
  • Which school is closest to the status quo?
  • The quality of the respective schools

The actual decision is irrelevant, but this case is a good summary of the law in this area.

You can read the decision here.

 

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