Tis the Season – Motions to Change a Child’s School

A new school year is around the corner. For Ontario family lawyers, this means disputes over where a child will attend school are brewing .

The chief objective in these cases is to determine which school will go furthest in promoting the child’s best interests.  Hamid v. Hamid, 2010 ONSC 2013 (CanLII) confirms the current analytical approach to evaluating various schools.

The Superior Court in Hamid starts with Asklan v. Taleb, [2012] ONSC 4746, which outlines seven focal points for consideration, including:

1)      Assessment of any impact on the stability of the child;

2)      Consideration of how many years the child has attended his or her current school;

3)      Whether there is any prospect of one of the parties moving in the near future;

4)      Where the child was born and raised;

5)      Whether a move will mean new child care providers or other unsettling features;

6)      Decisions that were made by the parents prior to the separation or at the time of

separation with respect to schooling;

7)      Any problems with the present school.

This is a non-exhaustive list. Factors such as proximity to the parents’ residences and convenience to the parents are not relevant, per Wilson v. Wilson, [2015] ONSC 479, as the analysis focuses on the child’s best interests, not the parents’. To that end, the overarching consideration is what school will give the child the best competitive advantage, go furthest in promoting their confidence and motivation, and facilitate important relationships the best. See Schloegel v. McCroary, [2012] BCSC 1606 for further information.

Jeffrey L. Hartman