Do I have to pay for my children’s private school fees after a divorce?

The question of what child support you have to pay after divorce is not clear cut.

According to the federal government’s Social Security Appeals Tribunal, the cost of educating a child is a common source of disputation” after separation and divorce. It’s also very common for McCarthy Durie Lawyers to advise people on such disputes.

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The Australian Government Department of Social Services points out that with any question of how much child support a parent has to pay, the following two factors are taken into account:

  • The parents’ financial ability to pay
  • The percentage of care

However, with regard to paying private school fees, matters are further complicated. The law takes into account the “expectations” that you and your former partner both had before the break up, as well as how “significantly” your child’s life will be affected if school fees aren’t paid. MDL can guide you through these two complex requirements.

1) Before the divorce, did both of you “expect” your child to go to private school?

As a custodial parent you can apply for your former partner to pay at least half your child’s school fees. However, you cannot force payment for private school fees that weren’t discussed before the divorce.

If you did both have expectations of paying, the Australian Government explains that the costs of educating, maintaining or training a child are calculated by the Registrar for both parents.

If it’s found that the expectations you and your ex-partner had before the marriage broke up are not being met, you will have to pay.

2) How significantly will private education affect your child’s life?

The other measure that determines whether you have to pay, is how significant the impact on the child will be if you don’t.

After calculating the costs that both parents expected to pay for the child, the Registrar will consider whether the additional amount is significant in relation to the assessed costs of the child.

If it’s found that the child will not be significantly affected by not going to private school, then a change to the assessment of child support will be denied.

Get expert advice on your separation

The McCarthy Durie Layers team understand how sensitive issues involving your children and divorce can be. That’s why we strive at all times to provide professional and helpful legal advice on whether or not your specific circumstances permit payment of school fees. 

Get advice today to find out about whether or not you have to pay school fees after a divorce. Contact the experts at McCarthy Durie Lawyers online or talk to us on 3370 5100 today.

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