By Cheryl Goldhart
Founder and Principal of Goldhart Law and Goldhart Mediation & Arbitration.

A recent decision from Justice Smith, Offer v. Lamorea, 2024 ONSC 927, involves a dispute between separated parents over which school their daughter should attend. This case provides helpful guidance on how our courts are approaching what can be a thorny issue for many separating/divorcing couples.


The parties, Ms. Offer (the mother) and Mr. Lamorea (the father), were unmarried and had a 4-year old daughter together. They had settled all matters regarding the parenting schedule anddecision-making authority except for the issue of school choice. Both resided in Kitchener in different neighborhood school catchment areas. Ms. Offer wanted their daughter to attend the public school near her residence, while Mr. Lamorea preferred the one closer to his home.


The core issue was which school would be in the best interests of child under section 24 of the Children’s Law Reform Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C-12 (“CLRA”). Both schools were comparable, so Justice Smith focused his analysis on factors impacting stability in the daughter’s life.

Reasoning and Conclusions

In determining Prueter Public School in Ms. Offer’s area was the preferred option, key considerations included:

  • Employment flexibility for Ms. Offer: Having the shorter school commute would allow Ms. Offer, who was unemployed, more latitude in finding work to improve her limited finances. This would bolster the family’s income and the child’s security.
  • Mr. Lamorea’s availability: As Mr. Lamorea was unemployed and on disability assistance, he had much more capacity to handle drop-offs and pick-ups at Prueter Public School when needed.
  • Involvement of extended family: Attending school near Ms. Offer facilitated greater involvement of the child’s grandmother, aunt, and sisters in her care when Ms. Offer was working or otherwise unavailable.

Ultimately, the choice of the farther school presented a more substantial disruption to Ms. Offer’s daily structure and her circle of support, outweighing the benefits associated with Mr. Lamorea’s school preference.

In particular the Court determined that:

It is very much in the child’s interests that her mother be employed. Her father cannot be employed and neither of her parents is wealthy. It would be an obvious benefit to the child’s security and stability for her mother to improve her financial position. If the applicant is employed, she will have to get herself to and from work and, on weeks when she has parenting time with the child, will have to get the child to and from school. Especially given her lack of a car, time will be at a premium. I accept that choosing Prueter will allow the applicant greater flexibility in finding a new employer because she will not have to account for travel time to Queen Elizabeth (Mokhov v. Ratayeva, supra, at para. 58; Piper v. Hare, 2021 ONSC 2139, at para. 30). Again, I emphasize that these benefits to the applicant are important not because they are benefits to the applicant, but because they are directly beneficial to the child.” (emphasis added)

Practice Suggestions

When advising clients in this situation, the factors Justice Smith considered provide a useful checklist. Although the child’s best interest is the paramount consideration, all other things being equal, assessing the parents’ employment/logistics and the child’s need for stability are factors that carry weight. Arguments grounded solely in one parent’s personal connections or convenience tend to gain little traction. However, extending consideration to the child’s broader support ecosystem can also be impactful.

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Cheryl Goldhart is a mediator and arbitrator who can make a difference in resolving your family disputes.

  • Nearly 40 Years in Family Law: Cheryl brings near four decades of experience practicing exclusively in family law.
  • Empathy Meets Insight – Masters Degree in Counselling: Cheryl’s Masters Degree in Counselling equips her with a blend of empathetic understanding and deep insight.
  • Certified Expertise in Family Law: Recognized by the Law Society of Ontario, Cheryl is a Certified Family Law Specialist.
  • Accredited Mediator by OAFM: The Ontario Association for Family Mediation has accredited Cheryl, underscoring her mediation expertise.
  • Designated Arbitration Professional by ADR Institute: Her arbitration skills are certified with a professional designation from the ADR Institute of Ontario.
  • Recipient of Numerous Awards and Honors: Cheryl’s outstanding contributions to family law have earned her numerous accolades, including the prestigious Ontario Bar Association’s Award for Excellence in Family Law.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Consult with a qualified family law attorney for advice regarding your specific situation. Goldhart Mediation & Arbitration is not responsible for any actions taken based on the information presented in this blog.

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