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Divorcing Parents' School Rows Fuelling Children's Summertime Blues
Divorcing parents engaged in brinkmanship with former partners are fuelling summertime disputes about children's education.
One of the country's leading family law firms has reported that the end of the school year has prompted "considerable numbers" of rows about where children should be taught.
JMW Solicitors has claimed that more than half of all its child-related casework during the summer holidays features disagreements concerning education.
Associate Gianna Lisiecki-Cunane suggested some parents were exploiting sensitivities around education provision in an effort to gain the upper hand in broader discussions about how marital finances should be divided on divorce.
"I have no doubt that some individuals deliberately try to take advantage of just how important their children's education is in order to advance arguments in relation to the overall divorce settlement.
"In my experience, most of these kinds of issues flare up in late June, July and August after simmering for a period of months without resolution. Sometimes, it is only the end of the school year which brings matters to a head, introducing an element of urgency to proceedings.
"There are cases, however, in which one parent decides to commence proceedings during the summer break because they believe the need to sort things out quickly may lead their former spouse to make concessions which they might not necessarily do at other times.
"Already this summer, myself and my colleagues have found ourselves dealing with a considerable number of cases, for instance, in which questions about children being moved to a schools in a completely different area or who should pay school fees have only been raised once term-time is over."
Ms Lisiecki-Cunane explained that one-fifth of the work handled by JMW's Family department throughout the course of the year related to matters affecting children.
She added that apart from an increase in cases arising from discussions about parental contact with their sons or daughters over the Christmas period, children's issues were at a consistent level across the calendar with the exception of a summer rush of disputes.
Ms Lisiecki-Cunane stated that whilst the workload had once commonly involved sorting holiday arrangements for children and their separated parents, the majority was now accounted for by disagreements about schooling which needed to be resolved before the start of the September term.
She said that courts were doing their utmost to avoid the rows impacting on children's education.
"Courts understand the importance of providing clarity in children's home and school lives, and do their best to help deal with cases as rapidly as they can.
"In some cases, that has meant their scheduling hearings for a financial decision on an issue only a matter of weeks after initial applications are made, something which demonstrates the desire to minimise any disturbance to a child's education.
"However, it is a fact that having to cope with a volume of these matters in a short space of time means increased pressure on the courts, the parents concerned and, sadly, the children involved too."
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Note to Editors
JMW Solicitors LLP is one of the leading Manchester law firms and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients. We are committed to providing legal services in a cost effective and timely manner.