Ontario Superior Court varies parenting order to ensure child's school attendance

The child's mother unilaterally withdrew her from school and began homeschooling her

Ontario Superior Court varies parenting order to ensure child's school attendance

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has varied a parenting order to address issues surrounding the education and well-being of a nine-year-old child.

The court's decision comes after the child's mother unilaterally withdrew her from Robert Bateman Elementary School and began homeschooling without the father's consent and contrary to an interim parenting order.

The court had to decide whether it was in the child's best interest to continue attending Robert Bateman School and whether the parenting arrangement needed modification to ensure her consistent school attendance. The mother opposed the child's return to the school, arguing it was not a good fit for her, while the father sought to restore the original school arrangement.

The parents separated in 2016 when the child was two years old. After the separation, parenting time was uneven until the mother faced eviction in July 2023 and agreed to have the father care for the child temporarily. During this period, the father enrolled the child in Robert Bateman School. However, the mother later accused the father of withholding the child, leading to court intervention that reinstated the mother's primary care during weekdays.

Further complications arose when the mother failed to send the child to school for extended periods and sought to change her school enrollment several times without informing the father or the court, ultimately deciding to homeschool the child without the necessary consent. This led the father to bring a motion to modify the parenting arrangement to ensure the child’s attendance at school.

Upon reviewing the case, the Superior Court emphasized the child’s best interests, considering her educational needs and the stability of her schooling environment. The court noted that while Z.M. faced bullying and other challenges, these issues could be managed within the school with appropriate support rather than withdrawing her from the school environment entirely. It was also noted that the mother's recent actions regarding the child’s schooling were not supported by sufficient evidence and were contrary to the interim parenting order.

As a result, the court ordered that the child resides with her father during the weekdays to ensure she attends school, reversing the initial interim arrangement. After reasonable consultation with the mother, the father was given decision-making authority on educational matters. The court set out detailed conditions for the new parenting arrangement, including specific provisions for transportation and communication between the parents regarding the child’s education and care.

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