Choosing a child's school is a parenting matter under the Family Law Act
Determining a child’s school is a parenting matter under Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975 (hereafter referred to as ‘the Act’). Regard to the best interests of the child is the paramount consideration. Section 60CC of the Act specifies how the Court must determine what is in a child’s best interests. The considerations include the wishes of the child. There is no presumption that the decision should accord with wishes expressed by the child and the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both parents remains a primary consideration. If the Court is satisfied that the wishes expressed by the child are soundly based and founded upon proper considerations and are well thought through having regard to the ability and state of maturity of the child it is appropriate to have regard to those wishes and to give weight to them as may be proper in the circumstances. As a matter of practical day-to-day experience, the problem is usually how to ascertain the wishes of the child and interpretation and assessment of those wishes in the face of conflicting evidence. The Court will attach varying degrees of weight to a child’s stated wishes depending upon, amongst other factors, the strength and duration of their wishes, their basis, and the maturity of the child, including the degree of appreciation by the child of the factors involved in the issue before the Court and their longer term implications. Ultimately the overall welfare of the child is the determinant. If the wishes of a child are rejected, then clear and cogent reasons for such a rejection must be given. The wishes of a child should not be discounted simply because they are expressed by a child. The goal is to take the wishes of children seriously by giving them careful, detailed consideration.