Can it be said that gone are the days of unspoken understandings, implied consent, assumptions, and acquiescence about the decisions impacting a child's care, welfare, and development? Not entirely.
Compulsory school enrollment and attendance for a child
In Western Australia, the parents of a child have compulsory statutory duties to ensure that their child is enrolled for and attends school. A parent's failure to comply with these duties have consequences, including monetary penalties and those arising from sentencing legislation.
Where do parents stand generally speaking?
There is no doubt that when it comes to parents and their child, that the family dynamic is forever altered following separation between the parents. In particular, decisions surrounding a child's schooling is one of the many major long-term issues that parents will need to address.
The family law legislation provides that each parent has parental responsibility for a child, notwithstanding any changes in the nature of the relationship between the parents.
Parental responsibility means all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which, by law, parents have in relation to a child. This includes decisions about a child's schooling.
Each parent's parental responsibility for a child continues to prevail until such time when Family Court proceedings are underway or a Family Court Order displaces it (either wholly or in part).
Do parents have to reach a decision about a child's schooling together?
As already discussed, each parent of a child has parental responsibility. Insofar as decision making is concerned, in the absence of Family Court proceedings or Family Court Orders, the parents will be able to make any and all decisions for a child either jointly or independently.
In contrast, when Family Court proceedings are underway, a rebuttable presumption for equal shared parental responsibility applies. This is a qualifying presumption that immediately alters the status of parental responsibility as it would otherwise typically apply. Equal shared parental responsibility means that both parents will have an equal role in making decisions about major long-term issues that will require the parents to consult each other and make a genuine attempt reach a joint decision.
Family Court Orders can further displace some aspects of decision making that can also alter the status of parental responsibility as it would otherwise typically apply.
What should you do?
For starters, it is important to know whether or not there are Family Court proceedings underway or if there are Family Court Orders.
It is also imperative that the communication between parents are clear, unambiguous, and informed.
Lastly, there are also publishing restrictions concerning Family Court matters. This includes making copies of such orders available to a child's school unless it is specifically provided for. It is an offence for a person who breaches the publication restrictions.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.