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Can a parent change a child's school without the other parent's permission?

View profile for Rupert Knell
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Can a parent change a childs school without the other parents permission?

Issues and parental disagreements around a child’s schooling are not uncommon and, often, one parent’s idea of where a child should go to school is completely different from the other’s.

But who makes the final decision? And do you need the other parent’s permission to change your child’s school?

In this article, Trainee Solicitor Rupert Knell answers these questions and details your parental rights.

Can a parent change a child's school without the other parent’s permission UK?

Whether a parent can change their child’s school without the other parent's permission or consent depends on who has parental responsibility.

To change a child’s school, everyone who has parental responsibility will need to be in an agreement of the change; or the change cannot go ahead.

Guidance for Mums and those seeking the Mother’s permission

The mother of any child automatically has parental responsibility, unless a court order states otherwise. If you’re the mother and no-one else has parental responsibility over your child, you needn’t seek consent from anyone else to change your child’s school.

If you’re not the child’s mother, and don’t have parental responsibility, you will need the mother’s consent to make any decision.

Related: What is parental responsibility and who has it?

Guidance for Fathers

Unlike mothers, fathers may not automatically have parental responsibility over their child.

If you, as the father, were not married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth, or you are not included on the child’s birth certificate, for one reason or another, you will not have parental responsibility.

And, therefore, you will not be able to make decisions on the child’s school.

If you do have parental responsibility, you will be able to make a decision on the child’s school but will still need permission from anyone else with responsibility (such as the mother).

Parental responsibility can be attained through creating or updating a Child Arrangements Order. Find out more here.

Related: Can a father take his child from the mother?

Guidance for anyone else

A person who is not the child’s mother or father, such as a step-parent, guardian, aunt, uncle, grandparent, may have parental responsibility or be able to attain it.

So, if you are the father/mother, do make sure all parties are consulted. And, if you are one of the people mentioned above who doesn’t yet have parental responsibility, it may be granted to you by the Court in the form of a Child Arrangements Order.

Related: Do I have a right to see my grandchildren?

Related: Can I get parental responsibility as a step-parent?

Where an agreement can’t be reached

If the people who have parental responsibility of a child can’t come to an agreement on where they should go to school, mediation can be a good way of solving things.

Through mediation, an independent third-party may be able help the parents/parties come to an amicable agreement.

If mediation fails, and all other options and compromises have been exhausted, you may wish to go to Court and instruct a solicitor. A family lawyer will help you understand your rights, prepare documents ready for Court proceedings and represent you in hearings.

Specialist Family Advice

We have written a longer, more comprehensive article that covers parental disagreements around schooling which might be useful to you. Read it here.

At Frettens, we understand that everyone’s circumstance is different.

Our bright & experienced family team would be happy to talk to you to gain a better understanding of your situation and provide more tailored advice and support.

We offer a free 30-minute appointment for all new clients. You can call us on 01202 499255 or fill out the form at the top of this page to get in touch.

The content of this article, blog or video is not intended as specific legal advice. For tailored assistance, please contact a member of our team.