Private schooling refused – not in the child’s best interests
- The father opposed the proposal for X to undertake her secondary education at (omitted) School (private schooling) for several reasons. First, he said that a division between siblings would be orchestrated by sending X to (omitted) School when A had been educated at (omitted) School. The father specifically spoke of a concern of introducing the notion of privilege as between the siblings. Second, he said he was unable to afford the school fees for (omitted) School. Third, he said that X should have the benefit of stepping into the shoes of her older sister A by following A at (omitted) School in the same way he stepped into the shoes of his brother when he was young.
- When I heard this application, X was 10 years of age. Ms D placed a great deal of store on the fact that X had expressed her wishes and that, in the opinion of Ms D, X had achieved the necessary mental, emotional and behavioural development such that her wishes should be given effect by the making of the orders sought.
- I disagree.
- I accept that the wishes of X are relevant and I am required to take into account those wishes pursuant to s.60CC(a) of the Act in an application such as this. But those wishes are not the absolute determiner. X’s wishes are among the many matters that I must take into account under s.60CC(3) of the Act. In addition, while I accept that X may presently hold certain views, even stridently held views, she is after all 10 years of age and her views will inevitably fluctuate, possibly very many times, between her current age and the date when she attains her majority.
- Before descending into the detail of this current application, it is relevant to address an issue on which Dr R focused, namely, the seemingly inconsistent position adopted by the father in agreeing to X attending (omitted) School at preschool then (omitted) for primary school yet he showed resistance towards X attending secondary school at (omitted) School. The father said he begrudgingly agreed to X attending primary school at (omitted) as a compromise in negotiations for time to be spent with X. Naturally, it was not proper for me to embark upon a detailed investigation of that compromise. That said, it was plain enough that the father took the view that he agreed to X attending (omitted) School as the quid pro quo for time that he spent with X. He left me with the impression that while he may have agreed to X attending (omitted) School, any such agreement for her to attend at that school was not the exercise of his free will in the matter. As far as X’s attendance at primary school at (omitted) School was concerned, the father explained that the mother was a (occupation omitted) at that school and she obtained discounted rates on the fees. Self-evidently, that was attractive to the father to say nothing of the excellent reputation enjoyed by (omitted) School.
- But in relation to X’s secondary school education, the father was immovable in his opposition to X returning to (omitted) School.
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