In the recent case of LMM v KDT, 2018 ABQB 279, the Court was tasked with determining where a child would attend kindergarten.
The parties had separated when their child was approximately 1.5 years old and since the time of separation had shared parenting, originally on a 4 days on/4 days off schedule and later a week on/week off schedule. After separation, the mother relocated south of Okotoks, Alberta while the Father continued to live in the south Calgary community of Copperfield. While the parties were able to manage most aspects of their shared parenting arrangement, they could not agree on child care and schooling for the child. In the past, the Court had been tasked with determining where the child would attend child care.
As the child’s kindergarten enrollment approached, the Mother brought an application for the child to attend school in Dewinton, Alberta which the father opposed and in response to which brought a cross-application that the child attend school in the south Calgary community of Cranston.
The Court was required to make a decision which it believed to be in the best interests of the child. Pursuant to section 18(2) of the Family Law Act, the Court was required to consider all of the child’s needs and circumstances, including the following considerations of particular relevance:
- The child’s physical, psychological and emotional needs, including the child’s need for stability, taking into consideration the child’s age and stage of development;
- The history of care for the child;
- Any plans proposed for the child’s care and upbringing;
- The ability and willingness of each parent to care for and meet the needs of the child and to communicate and co-operate on issues affecting the child; and
- The ability and willingness of each [parent] to exercise the powers, responsibilities and entitlements of guardianship.
In coming to its decision, the Court compared the two schools. The Court was not persuaded by the differences in composition of the schools or the respective kindergarten schedules. The Court turned its mind to the parents’ work schedules, travel arrangements and whether other recreation facilities were located nearby the schools. The two biggest factual components in the Court’s analysis however, were driving times and, more so, the change in daycare provider which would be necessary if the child were to attend school in DeWinton. A similar change in daycare provider would not have been necessary if the child were to attend school in the community of Cranston. The Court commented that it was “mindful of the effect of changing [the child’s] secondary care provider at the same time as she begins kindergarten.”
Ultimately, the Court’s decision turned on maintaining continuity in the child’s daily routines, including people with whom the child spent time and the physical surroundings and neighourhoods with which the child was familiar. The Court found it was better for the child to attend kindergarten in the community of Cranston.