A special vacation sitting of the Circuit Court in Dublin has heard family law applications concerning children and the new school year.
In one case heard on Wednesday, Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin had to consider whether a child due to start primary school next week should go to the school close to the home of the father, with whom the child is living, even though a custody hearing scheduled for three months’ time will decide whether the child should live with the father or the mother.
The court heard that a decision that the child should go to a school close to either of the parents could work against the other parent’s case when the custody hearing took place.
Following a suggestion on behalf of the father that the child stay in the creche the child is currently attending, close to the father’s home, Judge Ní Chúlacháin said there was no question of moving the child to a school close to the mother, so the only question was whether the child should go to a school close to the father, or continue in the creche.
The judge rejected the suggestion the child not go to school or the creche and ruled the child should continue in the creche until custody was decided upon later this year.
A second case involved divorced parents whose child was in a Dublin school close to where the mother used to live until she moved to a house outside Co Dublin with her new husband.
The mother, who has other children, found it very stressful driving to Dublin to drop off and collect the child during the last school year and wanted the child to move to a school near the child’s new home.
However, the child was against the idea. An assessor, who produced a report for the court, said the child’s continued attendance in the Dublin school had been a source of security during a period when the child had gone through a lot of major changes.
Rejecting the application, Judge Ní Chúlacháin said it had been the mother’s choice to move. She also rejected a suggestion that the child stay with the father during the week, as the child was against this.
The child had experienced “enormous upheaval” because of the parents getting divorced and finding new partners, and the child moving to a new home and getting new siblings. Through all of this “churn”, the school had provided some sense of security, the judge said.
While there was a “huge history of hurt and a lot of history” in the parents’ relationship, she urged them to take separate parenting courses.
“Being a child of separated parents is really hard” and soon the child would be a teenager, which would make matters “really, really difficult”.
The father, who was representing himself, said he would see whether he could drive from Dublin to his child’s home some mornings, to bring the child to the Dublin school.