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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: UK Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34105
Experience:  25 years experience of all aspects of family law
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Dear Sir/Madam I have a very specific question regarding

Customer Question

Dear Sir/Madam

I have a very specific question regarding parental rights & the child's education, and am happy to pay for an informed, accurate answer. I do not want to engage a solicitor at vast expense or to run up many billable hours; I am quite famliar with UK family law myself, but there seems to be some disagreement among solicitors about this particular issue.

May I ask you to identify a solicitor well-informed about the particular question set out below, and refer it to him or her? I can arrange payment by direct transfer for a one-page summary of my legal position.

The Question


The child is 10 years old, dob 10/10/01 ('Solly')

I am the mother. I have the only Residence Order, i.e. am named on the Order as the sole resident parent. The Father has JPR, however.

The Father has contact according to a regular schedule by a Consent Order. I have an excellent record of complying with all Ordered and agreed contact; indeed, I pay all contact costs myself (not insignificant, since we have previously lived overseas 8 months a year). The father has repeatedly tried to claim that his rights are not respected and makes numerous false allegations against me; this has led to restrictions and sanctions against him.

He has evaded most maintenance obligations by reporting a nil income to the CSA, although he is a wealthy man. This doesn't really matter directly to the present issues, as I am used to being my son's sole provider. However, it is important to appreciate that the father's overriding concern is to avoid any financial outgoing for the child.

The father has a history of malicious litigation, and is subject to a 91(14) restriction on his applications. Costs have been ordered against him in respect of his applications 3 times. He is basically a menace; details don't matter for present purposes, but this is not someone shy of litigation.


I wish to enrol my child in a private prep school and later send him to a good independent senior school. He is very bright and enjoys school; I am a University Professor, and naturally my son's education matters to me a lot. I will of course pay for it all myself. PROBLEM: The school applications ask for all parents with JPR to sign the form. The father refuses to agree to private education, because he is concerned that he mght one day be liable for some fees. That is fine, but he refuses to sign the school applications. He says that he will only agree to a State School. This is a big - and now urgent - problem, as my son's scholarship and entrance exams are coming up this year.


1. Will schools refuse to admit my child without the father's agreement, even though I have the only Residence Order?

2. Would the Father be liable for debts incurred for the child's education if he signed the application forms?

3. Suppose that, with the father's agreement, the father is NOT mentioned on the application form. He is supposed to be, but I could fail to volunteer that information. The failure would be my own alone, as it were. Would the father then be 'safe', i.e., would that eliminate any possibility that he might be held responsible for school fees? I hope so, because if he felt he were 'safe' from that prospect, he may agree to let me proceed with my son's school registration, so long as there was no risk that he would be held responsible for paying anything. If he thinks he will be held responsibile, he will go to court to block my son's enrolment.

4. If option 3 (above) will not fly, then could the father apply to the Court for a Prohibited Steps order, preventing my son from enrolling in the school of his/our choice? Would this likely succeed, even though I am the sole resident parent?

5. Could I apply for a Specific Issues order to REQUIRE the father to sign the school application forms, given that my child has been privately educated throughout his life, is an excellent candidate for such schools, wants to continue in private education and has opportunities for scholarships and bursaries? If so, what are my chances of succeeding?

I hope that you have a solicitor who is a SPECIALIST on this topic and has significant experience with parents refusing to sign school enrolment forms. I need to know what the precedents are and what would be the likely outcome of one option as against another.

I look forward to hearing from you at your very earliest convenience. The matter is now urgent.

With kind regards

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: UK Family Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 4 years ago.
What are you hoping to achieve?
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
1. They should not - the Residence Order should be sufficient
2. That depends on the wording of the forms however the father could specifically say that he does not accept responsibility for the fees just above his signature
3. If he is not mentioned on the form he cannot be liable - however the school will wish to see his birth certificate so that could be a problem
4. He can make such an application - if he gets permission from the court to do so
5. You can certainly get a Specific Issue Order that the child attends this school if the school refuses to accept the application without his signature
The case law in this area concentrate on disputes about which school a child should go to (generally on ideological grounds) or who should pay the fees.
Since you have no intention of asking him to pay the fees and apparently he is unlikely to object on ideological grounds there are a number or options open to you.
The starting point is to speak to the school.
Your situation is not unique and the requirement to sign the form may simply be the school ensuring that they do not become involved in litigation between parents (it happens) and on that basis they do undoubtedly have provision for other ways around this.
A letter from your ex confirming that he is in agreement with Private education provided he is in now way responsible for the fees should - be fine but talk to the school to ensure that if you have to make an application to the court you know exactly what you are applying for

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