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Paying for Private School Fees

Hi, I'm new to the forum but have been looking through posts for a while now.

I am a Stepmum for three boys and my husband and I have a child together. We a currently in conversation with the boys mother about what high school the boys will be attending, the boys mother wants them to go to a private school and my husband wants public. We are now at the point were discussions have broken down and we have to go to mediation. The boys are currently attending a private primary school which isn't a feeder school to any high schools.

My question is can my husband be forced to send and pay half the costs of private school fees? Prior to them seperating there had been no discussion about what high school they will be attending. He hasn't signed any waiting list enrollment forms.

I'm just worried that he can be forced to send them as they are currently attending a private primary school. My husband is able to prove that he can in no way afford to send them at this point i am supporting him and our house hold and if we have to pay were likely to lose everything

Stressed and worried stepmum
FairStepmum said
My question is can my husband be forced to send and pay half the costs of private school fees?
In short No. For school fees to be considered, there has to be evidence of the intention (except where the welfare of the child is at stake).

Here's what the CSA Guide says:-

The CSA Guide - 2.6.9: Reason 3 - high costs of caring for, educating or training the child in the manner expected by the parents said
Is the child being cared for, educated or trained in a manner expected by his or her parents?

The most common application for this reason involves the payment of private school fees and whether the child is being educated in a manner expected by the parents. However, this reason can apply to education and/or training outside the school environment.

The consideration is not limited to private school fees. Other costs may also be considered where they are above what would normally be incurred, and the way the parents intended to care for, educate, or train the child involves the incurring of these additional costs.  For example, the costs of uniforms or computer requirements of some private schools may be significantly higher than would be incurred at a state school.

In cases involving school fees and other associated costs, CSA will generally determine whether both parents agreed to the child being educated in the way outlined in the application. CSA will also consider the financial situation of both parents. The fact that a payer can afford to pay the fees, or is a wealthy person, is not in itself a reason for imposing a liability to contribute to school fees (Mee v Ferguson (1986) FLC 91-716).

Where a parent agreed to the child attending a private school they will be liable to contribute to the fees to the extent that they have the financial capacity. Where a parent has not agreed to the child attending a private school they will not be liable to contribute to the fees unless there are reasons relating to the child's welfare that mean that the child should attend a private school (and the costs would then relate to the child's special needs - see reason 2).

In deciding whether the reason is established CSA will consider the type of education intended by both parents for the child, rather than any particular school intended by the parents (Wild v Ballard (1997) FLC 92-771).


CSA will also consider the circumstances at the time of separation. If the child was attending a particular school, or was participating in a particular extra curricular activity, then this element will usually be established. If not, evidence of the parents' expectation would need to be provided, e.g. the payment of fees. The parents' expectation can be created at any time, not just during the period that the parents lived together.

Note the highlighted section it is used by vengeful parents(sic) to enact their vengeance against the other parent and a good reason why liable parent's should be very wary about considering private schooling.

I would also be suspicious that the other parent is trying to turn this into a Family Law matter, although the Family Courts should support the same principle, and basically tell the other parent to pay the fees in full if that's what they want. The reason I say this as there is no mediation requirement in regards to child support.I'd suggest that you simply state that you will not object to the other parent unilaterally enrolling the child(ren) under the understanding that it is the other parent's unilateral wish and intention to have the child(ren) schooled in that manner. It could also be that the other parent is attempting to trap you into an agreement. If this is the only issue that is on the table for mediation, then perhaps you should politlely decline mediation as their is no need as there is no negotiable point and that it would therefore simply be an unnecessary waste of time. Another consideration is the location of the school. That is will the schooling interfere with the time that the child spends with the parents. If so then the location may be a negotiable aspect.
Hi MikeT

Thanks for the quick response.

Could the boys mother argue that a precedence has been set, as they are already attending a private school, and therefore it was always the intention of the mother and father (even though it never verbally discussed) for them to always be enrolled in a private school?

MikeT said
If this is the only issue that is on the table for mediation, then perhaps you should politlely decline mediation as their is no need as there is no negotiable point and that it would therefore simply be an unnecessary waste of time.

Yes this is the only thing that was going to be discussed at mediation. A Mediator was instigated by us as the communications were becoming very aggressive and personal so we thought it would be best to get a third party involved so it we could reach an outcome. If we don't attend the mediation, what outcome will there be about the schooling? The eldest is starting high school next year and we do need to enrol him somewhere. Will he just be enrolled in the school in which he is zoned to? Can she enrol him with out the fathers consent and then look to chasing us down for payment?

MikeT said
I'd suggest that you simply state that you will not object to the other parent unilaterally enrolling the child(ren) under the understanding that it is the other parent's unilateral wish and intention to have the child(ren) schooled in that manner

How are we best to commicate this? How does this relieve us of any financial obligation if in the current consent orders (the consent orders were written and went through the courts 6 years ago) states that both parents will share equal costs of the children's schooling. Should we amend the consent orders to show that she is liable for all costs associated with sending them to a private school?

MikeT said
It could also be that the other parent is attempting to trap you into an agreement.

Not sure how she could trap us if my husband doesn't sign or agree to anything?

MikeT said
Another consideration is the location of the school. That is will the schooling interfere with the time that the child spends with the parents. If so then the location may be a negotiable aspect.

Yes the school that his mother would like him to attend is up to an hour each way by bus from where we live. Why would this be taken into consideration?


FairStepMum said
Could the boys mother argue that a precedence has been set, as they are already attending a private school, and therefore it was always the intention of the mother and father (even though it never verbally discussed) for them to always be enrolled in a private school?

Sorry, but I missed both instances where you said that they currently go to private school. This does put a different perspective on it as currently there is no distinction made between levels of schooling. The CSA would be likely to consider that private schooling was intended if the private schooling was in place prior to schooling. A court is far more likely then the CSA to consider if parents can afford it. As such mediation could be a good thing, it would be required to take the matter to court. To get to court you may well have to meet what is commonly called Rice and Asplund; a ruling that requires there to have been a significant change.

FairStepMum said
If we don't attend the mediation, what outcome will there be about the schooling? The eldest is starting high school next year and we do need to enrol him somewhere. Will he just be enrolled in the school in which he is zoned to? Can she enrol him with out the fathers consent and then look to chasing us down for payment?
Mediation doesn't result in an enforceable agreement unless what is decided is turned into court orders (this needn't cost much to do and doesn't necessarily require actually going to court orders could be consented to and filed, something around 95% of orders go this, albeit often with some court attendance). Parents do unilaterally enrol children in schools such policies could differ from state to state (although they shouldn't really because Family Law is Federal Law). In NSW there is a publication  "Family Law and the School", which says nothing specific about enrolment, however in general the principle:

Family Law and the School - Second Edition - Revised as at 2003 said

2(iii) parents share duties and responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children;

2.3 Whether or not court orders have been made, each parent has a parental responsibility towards their children which means they have the right to participate in decisions that affect their children.

The implication (except if court orders remove parental responsibility from a parent, although this aspect isn't acknowledged in the document) is that enrolment should really be agreed upon. However I don't think that you'd get anywhere arguing this (once enrolled then it would very likely be considered contrary to the child's best interest to change schools), so you really have to try to get a result at mediation and then have the amended orders filed.


FairStepMum said
MikeT said
I'd suggest that you simply state that you will not object to the other parent unilaterally enrolling the child(ren) under the understanding that it is the other parent's unilateral wish and intention to have the child(ren) schooled in that manner


How are we best to commicate this? How does this relieve us of any financial obligation if in the current consent orders (the consent orders were written and went through the courts 6 years ago) states that both parents will share equal costs of the children's schooling. Should we amend the consent orders to show that she is liable for all costs associated with sending them to a private school?
Again I apologise for missing that you said they already attend private school. As previously explained that changes matters. So what I suggested doesn't really apply (not that having that agreed to and file wouldn't be a bad thing). Amending court orders, if there isn't consent(agreement) is not easy as it would mean taking the matter to court (as previously mentioned).

FairStepMum said
Yes the school that his mother would like him to attend is up to an hour each way by bus from where we live. Why would this be taken into consideration?
If attending the school would reduce the contact the child has with the "spends time with" parent, then the court orders cannot be met (an argument against the school, not that strong an argument though).



MikeT said
the CSA would be likely to consider that private schooling was intended if the private schooling was in place prior to schooling.

The boys are currently enrolled in a non-govenrment primary school up to year six. As their school isn't a feeder school to any particular high school. Would the primary school enrolment forms that my husband signed be enough for the boys mother to say that there was always the intent for them to remain in a non-government school for their high school and college years? Could it be argued that it was intended for the non-government education to cease or at least be re-negociated once they commenced high school as their enrolment was only until year 6?





FairStepMum said
The boys are currently enrolled in a non-govenrment primary school up to year six. As their school isn't a feeder school to any particular high school. Would the primary school enrolment forms that my husband signed be enough for the boys mother to say that there was always the intent for them to remain in a non-government school for their high school and college years? Could it be argued that it was intended for the non-government education to cease or at least be re-negociated once they commenced high school as their enrolment was only until year 6?

Unfortunately and wrongly the CSA is likely to consider that the intention for private schooling has been given. I don't think that they would listen to the argument. The CSA should also consider the affordability but it is also likely that they would fudge the figures and make it appear that you can afford the private schooling. The Change of Assessment process has often been called "Deem and Destroy" as the process is very often, if not always, unreasonable. The process is rarely about the children but about maximising the amount that can be transferred or collected so that the CSA can appear to be doing it's job. A job that is in reality about taxation of separated parents due to the offsetting of FTB and hence why the Government very much supports the CSA in taking this approach.

In my opinion, it is ridiculous that intact families can make such decisions based upon their own assessment of their own situation yet for the separated family it is often a means of one parent enacting their vengeance against the other parent, by the way of introducing financial hardship. I believe at the minimum that a means test should be introduced that will only allow sharing of private schooling fees at a level based upon the lower income. However, really it should only be allowed when there is an ongoing agreement between the parents and that it should be outside of CS.
FairStepmum said
…We a currently in conversation with the boys mother about what high school the boys will be attending, the boys mother wants them to go to a private school and my husband wants public.
I also missed the point that they were attending a private PRIMARY SCHOOL which throws a very different complexion on it all. The CSA take a very draconian view that if there was an "intent", or "intention" to educate in a private school then you should do so… To do that they don't seem to really care too much about what you have to sell off to pay for it.  The problem we see mostly, is that after separation, suddenly the spends time with parent (The payer usually) finds themselves in a very tight financial situation which is exasperated if they start a new family or buy a new property or even are renting whilst still paying a mortgage off with the ex partner… What was agreed when they were together suddenly becomes a double edged sword when they get to the COA under reason 3.

It is all very well agreeing when financially things are all going well but when things change, income levels change and discretionary spending is required in a new family as opposed to supporting an old family to the level that it was supported previously, THEN private educational commitments become extremely problematic.

CSA seem to go way beyond "Can BOTH parents afford" to provide an education (private) and "did they agree at one stage" but they seem to be dictating compliance when one parent simply cannot afford to pay. Personally my view is that parents should sort this out themselves and reason 3 should be dispensed with. The Government has poured billions into the public education system so if you can't agree to send the children to a  private school they can go to a  public school. There is nothing wrong with public schools in Australia. We are not in a  third world developing nation where children don't even have text books in some schools.

IF both parents have a desire to send the children to a private school and both want to pay half or an agreed amount then by all means do so. BUT how a government department can hold parents to such considerable financial commitment after the parents separate when they have different financial circumstances seems odd. There has been much discussion about amendments to the COA system and that is on going currently in various project stages.

There has been some suggestion that it may be more appropriate if there were break out points ie. Pre School to Primary School to Middle School, Middle School to High School. That is there are 3 withdrawal points made going to Primary, going to Middle School and going to High School. At least that way I suppose there is a lesser impost on how long an unwilling parent would have to pay and it sets a definite period a parent would HAVE to pay.

Do you have any views on this?

One area of real concern and problematic in relation to this determination is self employed parties.

It is one thing to show profits on a  balance sheet and as we all know it is an entirely and substantially different matter to have any money in the bank. You can have a great profitable company on paper and be quite cash poor and unable to meet other commitments. Our executive members have as yet been entirely unsuccessful at and personally, I must say extremely disappointed, at the response we got regarding the "Self Employed" Fact sheet ideas.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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Please note that the high school the there mother wants to enrol them in is a completely different/ separate school to the primary school that they are attending and therefore new enrolment forms need to be filled in and signed by both parents.

Even though my husband has NOT signed the high school enrolment forms and has not in any way agreed for the boys to attend a private high school, will we have no choice but to pay as he had once agreed to them attending a private primary school?


Secretary SPCA said
There has been some suggestion that it may be more appropriate if there were break out points ie. Pre School to Primary School to Middle School, Middle School to High School. That is there are 3 withdrawal points made going to Primary, going to Middle School and going to High School. At least that way I suppose there is a lesser impost on how long an unwilling parent would have to pay and it sets a definite period a parent would HAVE to pay.

In our school system we only have pre school, primary school, High School and College. We were happy for them to attend a private school for their primary school years as we thought that once they completed that they would be attending a public school. But now we are being told that we have to send them to a private school as it was the intent/ precedence that they would continue to go to a private school because they have always been attending one. If we agree to them going to a private high school then when it comes to talking about college again the precedence has been set that they would continue their private school education, so really we will always be forced to send them there.

Are we best to try and take this to court to prove they there is in no way that we can afford it?

Last edit: by FairStepmum

FairStepmum said
Are we best to try and take this to court to prove they there is in no way that we can afford it?

At court you are far more likely to get a fair decision, but even still a fair decision is not guaranteed. However, to get that fair decision could possibly be at a greater cost than the school fees, although it could be also be less. To be honest it's really only something than can be determined after the fact. You could certainly chose options that reduce the court costs. You could self-represent or do much of the leg-work to reduce legal costs. Another option could be to await any CSA intervention, object take the matter to SSAT (Social Securities Appeal Tribunal) (assuming that the objection was not fruitful, that assumption is made as rarely are objections fruitful). If the SSAT decision is still not fair then you can take that decision to court but only on a matter of law. A favourable result would likely simply be the SSAT being told to remake the decision (obviously heeding the magistrates decision).
Reason 3  High costs of caring for, educating or training the child in the manner expected by the parents
Context
A payer or payee can apply for a change of assessment in special circumstances if the costs of maintaining a child are significantly affected by high costs of caring for, educating or training the child in the way both parents intended.
Legislative references
Sections 98B(1), 98C, 98S, 117(2)(b)(ii) and 117(4) to 117(9) Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989.
Explanation
The question of school fees was dealt with by the Full Court of the Family Court in Mee v Ferguson (1986) FLC 91-716. The principles that emerge from the case in relation to school fees can be summarised as follows:
(a) Where the non-custodian has agreed to the child attending a private school, that person is liable to contribute to the fees involved so long and to the extent that he or she has a reasonable financial capacity to continue to do so;
(b) Where the non-custodian has not agreed to the child attending such a school, he or she is not liable to contribute to those expenses unless there are reasons relating to the childs welfare which dictate attendance at that school rather than a non-private school. Then the non-custodian is required to contribute to the extent that he or she has a reasonable financial capacity to do so;
© The mere fact that a non-custodian can afford the fees or is a wealthy person is not in itself a reason for imposing that liability.
Although Mee v Ferguson was decided prior to the introduction of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989,
the reasoning has been applied to the child support cases Lightfoot and Hampson (1996) FLC 92-663 and
Wild v Ballard (1997) FLC 92-771.


Does section b apply to our situation as my husband hasn't signed the enrolment forms for the high school?

FairStepmum said
(a) Where the non-custodian has agreed to the child attending a private school, that person is liable to contribute to the fees involved so long and to the extent that he or she has a reasonable financial capacity to continue to do so;
(b) Where the non-custodian has not agreed to the child attending such a school, he or she is not liable to contribute to those expenses unless there are reasons relating to the childs welfare which dictate attendance at that school rather than a non-private school. Then the non-custodian is required to contribute to the extent that he or she has a reasonable financial capacity to do so;

Taking those words that are from the CSA Guide (note that there is a case where the mention of the CSA guide was lambasted "It's not the legislation") then the mention is of "A" school not schools or schooling. So it would be easy to fight that if it were the legislation. The actual legislation states at Section 117(6):-

The Child Support Assessment Act 1989 Section 117(6) said
Proper needs of the child
   (6)   In having regard to the proper needs of the child, the court must have regard to:
   (a)   the manner in which the child is being, and in which the parents expected the child to be, cared for, educated or trained; and
   (b)   any special needs of the child.

So the answer is really that section b, as is the whole guide, is not legally valid and therefore doesn't actually apply. Your fight, if the matter is pushed, should be with the 117(6)(a) and also 117(1)(b)(ii)(A) which is:

The Child Support Assessment Act 1989 Section 117(1) said
Court may make departure order
   (1)   Where:
   (a)   application is made to a court having jurisdiction under this Act for an order under this Division in relation to a child in the special circumstances of the case; and
   (b)   the court is satisfied:
   (i)   that one or more of the grounds for departure mentioned in subsection (2) exists or exist; and
   (ii)   that it would be:
   (A)   just and equitable as regards the child, the carer entitled to child support and the liable parent; and
   (B)   otherwise proper;
      to make a particular order under this Division;
the court may make the order.

It is widely understood that the CSA DO NOT really consider the liable parent as worthy of anything but an existence, if even that. Whilst a court is far more likely to promote a liable parent to being worthy of a life rather than a mere existence.
Just to summarise and make sure that I have got it all right in my head:

As the boys are currently attending a private primary school, that is enough to prove intent for them to always have a private education.

If we were to apply for a COA 3 we wouldn't achieve a desirable outcome as we are the payer, even if we can prove that my husband in no way can afford it

If the boys mother were to apply for a COA 3 she would be able to force us to pay even though we don't have the capacity to

Even though my husband hasn't and wont sign the high school enrolment forms, we will still be liable for 50% of the cost.



I'm really not sure where to go from here, my husbands income isn't enough to pay for the extra $120.00 a fortnight. Is there anyway around this?

Last edit: by FairStepmum

Are there court orders in place? If so, what do they say about decision making, specifically in regard to education?

Not sure, if a letter written to the mother by your husband stating his position on sending them to a private high school would have any effect, but it woudl at least show his intentions.

If the primary school is not a feeder school, does her proposed school cause a reduction in your husbands time with the children? Does it have an impact on transport arrangements etc?
Boots said
Are there court orders in place? If so, what do they say about decision making, specifically in regard to education?

There isn't anything in the consent orders about schooling other than both parent agree to share equal costs of the schooling and agreed extra curricular actives.

Boots said
Not sure, if a letter written to the mother by your husband stating his position on sending them to a private high school would have any effect, but it woudl at least show his intentions.

The only thing that the boys mother would be able to say was "the agreed intention" for them to be schooled in a private school would be the original enrolment forms from the primary school. Other than that, she doesn't have anything to prove it was his intent

Boots said
If the primary school is not a feeder school, does her proposed school cause a reduction in your husbands time with the children? Does it have an impact on transport arrangements etc?

Yes it does. It is an hour bus ride each way for the eldest to attend this particular school. My husband is currently working two jobs to pay for everything as it is, so if he is forced to send them to this school, he wont be seeing his kids during the week at all.

FairStepmum said
Please note that the high school the there mother wants to enrol them in is a completely different/ separate school to the primary school that they are attending and therefore new enrolment forms need to be filled in and signed by both parents.

Even though my husband has NOT signed the high school enrolment forms and has not in any way agreed for the boys to attend a private high school, will we have no choice but to pay as he had once agreed to them attending a private primary school?
Yes I got that. You might be able to argue that you agreed only to send them to a private school for the duration of the primary school education and that you always intended to send them to a public school after that… The point is that you have obviously intended them to go to a private school (primary) but how far that extends will entirely depend on how the officer feels if and when he looks at things. I would certainly be writing to the mother with a clear statement of your position in relation to school fees and private schooling, outlining your previous (assumed verbal) agreement.

In fact there is not a COA (Change of assessment) on the table at the moment and you appear to be in negotiations so the basic issue is you can't deliver the required funding. Isn't it that simple? If the mother wishes to take it further then she will have to make application via COA and even that is very uncertain. It won't get to a court case until after a COA and an SSAT hearing and even after that it is doubtful because you will need to appeal on a point of law.
FairStepmum said
Secretary SPCA said
There has been some suggestion that it may be more appropriate if there were break out points ie. Pre School to Primary School to Middle School, Middle School to High School. That is there are 3 withdrawal points made going to Primary, going to Middle School and going to High School. At least that way I suppose there is a lesser impost on how long an unwilling parent would have to pay and it sets a definite period a parent would HAVE to pay.

In our school system we only have pre school, primary school, High School and College. We were happy for them to attend a private school for their primary school years as we thought that once they completed that they would be attending a public school. But now we are being told that we have to send them to a private school as it was the intent/ precedence that they would continue to go to a private school because they have always been attending one. If we agree to them going to a private high school then when it comes to talking about college again the precedence has been set that they would continue their private school education, so really we will always be forced to send them there.

Are we best to try and take this to court to prove they there is in no way that we can afford it?
You are some way from thinking about courts if you are in Australia. The first step is already being taken and that is you have advised the Payee that you can no longer continue paying for private education after the primary school concludes. College is typically an American term which is equivalent to our Tafe or Universities so not sure where that would be in Australia but I don't think it matters as you get the point that there is discussion going on about withdrawal points. In fact we also have Kindy after Pre school so you could option to drop out after kindy (K1) I would assume.

You might also look to your court orders for guidance and if the orders suggest you pay half what did that mean when you negotiated that order at the time? Did it mean half private school? What was the discussion around the creation of that order? I suggest the other party to that order believes it to be half of the school fees … period…  regardless of what sort of school. Apologies if some of this repeats what may have been discussed.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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Sorry SPCA I couldn't get the quote thing to work.
Secretary SPCA said
College is typically an American term which is equivalent to our Tafe or Universities so not sure where that would be in Australia
In the state in Australia that we living have three break points in schooling - Kindy to yr6 - Primary, yr7 to yr10 - high school, yr11 to 12 College. So my husband believes that he agreed that the kids could attend primary school up until they finish primary school and that they would have to discuss high school as there is a break point where the kids could attend any other school, not necessarily a private high school. He sees it as he signed a contract (the enrolment form) for them to attend a private primary school, after that contract finished once the children had finished year 6, they would have to re-negotiate high school as there was no "contract" in place.

As we have the kids 50% of the time and we are paying child support and on top of that the private school fees, my husband believes that he should have 50% of the say in where they attend school regardless of whether or not there had been intent or a precedence set. Both parents' circumstances have changed since they had put the eldest into school.
Secretary SPCA said
outlining your previous (assumed verbal) agreement.
There had been no discussion as to high school, both were just wanting to get it done and move on. So no discussion ever took place.
Secretary SPCA said
It won't get to a court case until after a COAand an SSAT hearing and even after that it is doubtful because you will need to appeal on a point of law.
I'm not sure what you mean by this?
Secretary SPCA said
You might also look to your court orders for guidance and if the orders suggest you pay half what did that mean when you negotiated that order at the time? Did it mean half private school?
That they will both pay half of the school fees, but it didn't specify that it had to be a private school. However the eldest was enrolled in private school at the time the consent orders were made.
Secretary SPCA said
What was the discussion around thecreation of that order?
There really wasn't. At the time original consent orders were made, my husband had the kids 5 nights a fortnight and wasn't only paying child support, the kids mother was paying for the private school fees by herself. My husband wanted to have shared care but was only able to get the mother to agree to 6 nights a fortnight if my husband would pay for half of the school fees. We now have them 50% of the time and have done since late 07 and the consent orders now reflect this

I really don't understand how his ex could apply to a COA when we are already paying CS and have them 50% of the time. I could understand the argument of "educating in a way that was alway intended" if we only had them every other weekend and were only paying CS and not paying half of the school fees. But because we have the kids half the time and haven't signed the new enrolment forms, I just don't see how she could apply?
FairStepmum said
In the state in Australia that we living have three break points in schooling - Kindy to yr6 - Primary, yr7 to yr10 - high school, yr11 to 12 College. So my husband believes that he agreed that the kids could attend primary school up until they finish primary school and that they would have to discuss high school as there is a break point where the kids could attend any other school, not necessarily a private high school. He sees it as he signed a contract (the enrolment form) for them to attend a private primary school, after that contract finished once the children had finished year 6, they would have to re-negotiate high school as there was no "contract" in place.
Thank you for that and my partner has berated me as most private schools in Australia refer to year 11/12 as Senior College so I am humbly enlightened. There is definitely some good argument that the contract was for a specific term, there are express terms in the contract that is primary school and if the primary school is ONLY a primary school then there would be a terminating event to discharge the contract. That is one thing.

Then there is a separate discussion around the intentions of what might have been proposed … "the new agreement" at High School AND College. This includes a definition, a promise and is concerned with obligations or the promises that two parties made to each other.

If you are both in a shared care arrangement are you in the Child Support Agency scheme as a client? Perhaps I should have asked that earlier and I just assumed from the fact you are "Paying Child Support" that you were. If you are a CSA customer are you paying any Child Support? If you are a customer of the CSA then your ex partner would be able to apply for a COA (Change of Assessment) under any of 10 reasons but this specific case would be reason three.

If you have 50% care you will have Equal Shared Parental Responsibility (Family Law Act) and both of you will have equal contribution in relation to determining all matters around their education.

My feeling, and what I would maintain in any mediation, that the completion of the primary school is a terminating event and that any discussion on private school was to the extent of the primary school contract and the literal meaning in the orders. What other options would you accept the children attending the next level of private school. For example if the mother contributed 65% would that bear any influence on your agreement or otherwise? If you were to pay the contribution to core school fee contribution and not the consolidated fund fees? or a reduction in child support payments (not sure what sort of amount you are paying) and paying half of the core fees? If you have a stable job and increments each year could you commit those increments toward the fees and also have you considered an application to any super fund for a specific withdrawal for the fees.

Would any permutation allow you to come to some arrangement for these children?

It seems sensible considering you have 50% care that you do seriously try to come to some arrangement and exhaust all possible financial permutations.








Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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