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Thomas Judge
Thomas Judge, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33048
Experience:  Over 25 years experience in law
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My question is about school admissions daughter,

Customer Question

Hello,
My question is about school admissions for my daughter, who will be starting reception in September 2016.
We live with my boyfriend and his two daughters in south Bristol (they live 50% of the time at their mothers and 50% with us). We are not married and have been together 3 years.
His younger daughter (8), attends a local primary school - a school which has increased in popularity and whose catchment has shrunk, making us just over the border (2015 catchment was 0.5 and we are 0.56 away). We would like my daughter (3) to also attend the same school as my boyfriends child as he would be able to take her to school and pick her up, allowing me to get to work three mornings and also benefitting my daughter as she would be at the same school as her sister.
My boyfriend takes his child to school on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and collects her from school on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. Her mother collects her on Wednesday afternoons and has her the end of the week and alternate weekends - making an equal 50/50 divide of time.
Bristol council have a 'common law' rule, so although we are not married and our children are not related, they would consider them as siblings as we live as a family. They have told us to write a letter containing all the information and they will consider it.
The issue is that when my partner and his ex separated, my boyfriend kept the child benefit registration for his eldest daughter (who now attends secondary school) and her mother kept the child benefit registration for the younger daughter (who attends our local primary). Obviously her fathers name and our address is on her birth certificate, her doctors and dentists are registered at her fathers address, but the child benefit letter is at her mothers address.
So my question is regarding the documents that will take preference in their consideration process - is there any point applying for this school if they will consider the child benefit document as the primary source of proof of residence? (all primaries in our area are oversubscribed and so I would want to put another as first choice giving her a higher chance of getting a place in a school close by).
I have asked Bristol LEA for advice and they cannot clarify - they seemed to think I was lying and trying to commit fraud, which has been upsetting. We have nothing to hide and we are telling the truth that his children spend 50% of the time with us. They said a child is considered as living at one address only - not 50/50, so this seems to imply that they would be likely to decide this would be the mothers address if the child benefit registration takes preference.
I would really appreciate some advice on this. Bristol LEA have taken a dim view of my asking advice about this, but I can assure everyone that we are being completely honest - we just want to find out if there is any point in applying for this school for my daughter.
Many thanks
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Thomas Judge replied 2 years ago.
With regard to the child arrangements is there a written agreement or court order. As it would appear to me that a document which deals with the reality of the situation is the most important piece of evidence to answer your question. The fact is that in law these days children do not just live in one address - they live in more the one under the auspice of a child arrangement order (previously a shared residence order or arrangement). It makes common sense to lawyers. Happy to discuss. Please rate positive.
Expert:  Thomas Judge replied 2 years ago.
I hope that this helps - please rate positive - thanks