Court room battles – children going back to school


With England moving into a new phase of lifting lockdown, from 1 June 2020 children in reception, year 1 and year 6 have been allowed to return to school but should they be going?

This is a question many parents have asked themselves and it is a difficult one to answer. Each families circumstances are different and where one family may say the children need social interaction after weeks inside the same four walls and are at low risk by going back to school, another family may say they will not be sending their children because the parents can work from home so there is no need to subject them to any risk by sending them back to school. There also does not appear to be any consistent gender pattern as to whether it is the mother or father who is more protective or in favour of letting a child mingle with classmates.

The decision is made even more difficult where parents are separated and disagree over the arrangements for their children. Everyone who has parental responsibility for a child has rights and responsibilities towards that child to keep them safe but they also have rights and responsibilities towards all those other adults who have PR. Unilateral decisions are rarely supported, and when made, can usually see the matter end up in court for a judge to decide what is in the child’s best interests.

Many newspapers have reported stories of an increased workload for family practitioners as more and more parents are issuing court applications to obtain an Order deciding what should happen and in this crisis whether eligible children should return to school, wear face masks, carry hand gel etc.  Family courts have been dealing with urgent cases only throughout the pandemic crisis, some via remote video hearings or telephone conferences. They can be difficult to organise with children present in the home but are not impossible.

Ultimately if separated parents cannot reach an amicable agreement over this issue the court is there to make the decision instead. Court proceedings can be daunting but at Barker Gotelee, our family solicitors have extensive experience in dealing with court applications of this nature and are ready to assist anyone who needs help. We offer a fixed price initial consultation in the first instance. Contact us on 01473 617 303 for more information.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.

Suffolk Divorce Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk