Parents go to court over which school to sent their child to

Parents go to court over which school to sent their child to. Picture: File

Parents go to court over which school to sent their child to. Picture: File

Published Feb 16, 2024


A judgement by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, highlighted how estranged parents at war can forget about the interests of their child. In this case both parents wanted to enrol their child at a different school for Grade R - and neither would budge.

The father, who turned to court, said the child should attend a school in the Centurion region, as he lived in Kyalami. The mother, on the other hand, said the child should attend a school, east of Pretoria.

The child was enrolled in both schools, as neither parent would relent.

In the opening to the judgment, the court remarked that when parents were in turmoil, children were the ones who feel the brunt.

“Sadly divorce, separation or any kind of dispute between the mother and the father exposes children to a great deal of acrimony. Ordinarily, while the parents engage in a legal battle, the poor children become the arena of the struggle.”

The court added that this at times leads to a child losing a sense of stability and security, which may result, as most psychologists say, in problems such as perpetual emotional commotion, depression, substance abuse, and educational failures.

It is for that reason that the law considers the interest of the children to be of paramount importance.

At the heart of this matter is a little girl who is 5 years old and is the subject of a tug-of-war between her divorcing parents.

The husband alleged that since their separation, the wife had adopted a high-handed and dictatorial approach to all decisions about the child’s care and had made unilateral decisions. The wife, on the other hand, said that the husband has made ever-increasing demands that are not in the interest of their child.

The couple separated in October 2020 and the divorce process is currently underway. Shortly after the separation, the wife and child moved from the former matrimonial home in Kyalami, Midrand (where the husband remains resident), to Pretoria East.

Experts who are counselling the parents and the child, advised the parties that it was important for the child to attend a school midway between the parties' respective homes for ease of contact between both parents.

The wife, shortly after she moved, enrolled the child at a playschool closed to her Pretoria East home. The husband was opposed to this school because it is five minutes away from the wife’s new house.

He complained that this left 100% of transportation for him between Kyalami and Pretoria. This resulted in him spending hours in traffic to exercise contact with the child.

He said he then asked her to enroll the child at a play school that is halfway between their respective houses to facilitate his contact with his daughter. The wife ignored him.

In March last year the parties began discussing the choice of school for this year. The husband said the wife misled him in that she said she would consider his suggestion of the school in Centurion, as it was halfway between their homes.

He established in September that she had enrolled the child in a school east of Pretoria. Upset with this, the husband sent a letter to the school informing them that he does not consent to the child’s enrolment for grade R this year.

The wife said she did view the school of her husband’s choice, and her concern is that the school is 29km away from her house and that would not serve the interest of the child. She accused him of only thinking about his own convenience.

The court meanwhile disagreed with the idea of the school halfway between the parties' respective homes. It said for the child to make it in time every day to school, it means she will have to leave her mother’s home in the early hours of the morning so that the mother could navigate the traffic.

“Surely that will be torture for the child and it will be serving the interest of the parents and disregarding the best interest of the child,” the court said in ordering the mother’s choice as the school.

Pretoria News