A Guide to Protecting Your Child’s Best Interests - By Angie Brown, Head of Dootsons Family Team and FMCA Family Law Mediator

Angie Brown heads the Family Law department at Dootsons and brings over two decades of specialised experience to her role. An esteemed family law solicitor and courtroom advocate, Angie also holds a qualification as an FMCA-accredited family law mediator.

She earned her LLB (Hons) and is an active member of Resolution, a community of family justice professionals.

In 2010, Angie gained recognition for her skills in interpersonal mediation. Two years later, she achieved full accreditation for Family Law Mediation across all issues, earning her FMCA status. This enables her to offer alternative conflict resolution methods like family law mediation and MIAMS.

Angie’s professional journey spans diverse settings, from city centre legal firms to local practices, excelling in all aspects of Family Law.

How Separated Parents Can Make Informed School Choices

The education of a child is a crucial part of their upbringing. It’s hardly surprising that choosing the right school can often become a source of friction among separated parents.

My aim is to shed light on the challenges separated parents in the UK face when it comes to school choice disputes. And offer a guidance on how to navigate this complex situation.

Legal Framework

According to Section 3 of the Children Act 1989, parental responsibility means all ‘rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.

This means that even though you are separated, parents have certain rights and responsibilities relating to their child’s education. UK law encourages both parents to actively engage in decisions related to their child’s upbringing, including their schooling.

Parental responsibility is a cornerstone concept, affecting decisions about education.

Open Communication

Effective communication is paramount in resolving school choice disputes. Both parents should have open and respectful conversations about their preferences, priorities, and worries concerning their child’s education.

Mediation or family counselling can facilitate these discussions and offer alternative solutions.

The Child’s Best Interests

In determining what is in the best interests of the child, courts in the UK often refer to the Welfare Checklist in Section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989. This includes considering factors such as the child’s feelings, physical and emotional needs, and the potential effect of any change in circumstances.

Just like when you need to navigate arrangements during the school holidays; when it comes your child’s education, above all, the focal point in any school choice dispute must be the child’s best interests.

Courts in the UK consider a number of factors such as the child’s age, academic needs, involvement in extracurricular activities, and the proximity of the school to each parent’s residence.

A child’s opinion might also be accounted for, subject to their age and maturity level.

Seek Legal Advice

If parents are unable to reach a consensus on the choice of school, it might be necessary to seek legal advice. The expert team here at Dootsons can provide essential guidance on your rights and obligations concerning your child’s education.

Family Mediation Works

Court Intervention

In some cases, parents may need to resort to court intervention. The court will make decisions based on the child’s best interests, and these decisions are legally binding.

Each parent should be prepared to present solid evidence and compelling arguments in favour of their chosen school.

Co-Parenting and Compromise

Ultimately, finding a compromise is often the most constructive solution. Healthy co-parenting helps to reduce conflicts and serves to benefit the child in the long run.

Striving to find common ground and making concessions for your child’s welfare can make a world of difference.

Collaborating to Ensure Your Child’s Educational Success

Navigating school choice disputes among separated parents can be complex, but the ultimate priority must be your child’s best interests. Through open communication, professional advice, and, if necessary, court intervention, you can achieve a resolution.

The key is to remember that your child’s education is a shared responsibility, even when the relationship between parents has changed. By working together, you can ensure your child receives the best possible education and developmental support.


Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes and should not be considered a substitute for professional legal advice.

For More Information: For personalised advice on your specific situation, please speak to our family law team by calling 01942 673431, or enquiring online.