Donate Child Support Calculator
Skip navigation

CSA and Private School Fees

Add Topic

Changing schools to more expensive private school - will I get 1/2 the fees or not ???

Hi everyone…I have a question. My son is 9, lives with me 75% and in Year 4 at a private school. Since my ex and I separated in 2006 when our son was in preschool I have had to (under Reason 3 of the Change Of Assessment) seek assistance from CSA in getting my ex to pay half my son's school fees ($950). Hence, this has now happened 3 times and 3 times I've won that battle.

My dilemma is that next year my son has been accepted to attend an inner city boys school (from Year 5). He wants to go, there are far better opporunities etc… however I expecting a "poo" storm from the ex. Here's what I need to know:

1. What happens if my ex will not sign enrolment papers? This will be to do with money as there'll be an increase in fees from $2000 p.a. to around $5400 p.a. He doesn't want to pay half now and this will be an increase - I propose both of us paying half - same as now.

2. If I get him to sign enrolment papers will CSA then be able to next year under reason 3 get him to pay half of the new school's fees - ie. $2,700?

I'm told that CSA may only be able to get him to continue to pay half of the current school's fees (his share is $95) but what happens if my son moves to the new school, I've had to possibly accept the half of the other fees from the previous (ie. $950) and then at the new school (Yr 5-12) he moves into Year 8 there. Wouldn't CSA then finally have to say "ok $950 per year is not reasonable for the father to pay given that even if the child had remained at the initial school he'd now be finished and forced to move onto to another more expensive private high school"?

3. His income is $121,500k per year and mine is $57,000. Surely if I can find $2,700 per year the ex can as well given his high income? Half I'd have thought was fair? It always amazes me when parent/s cry poor yet they spend easily $1,200 per year on Foxtel, and smoke!

4. Uniforms for the new school? Will I get any help with that? Currently CSA told me no extra financial support for uniforms but the new ones will be blazers, hats, ties etc. etc… very expensive.

Any advice on how I wade through this minefield would be great. My son really wants to go to the new school but without support from the ex it's pretty well impossible. The ex remains a hostile bully so my hands are tied.

Appreciate your help. Many thanks, (Name withheld but provided.)
In much haste, what was the intention of the other parent in relation to private schooling? That is a key question. Also if the financial position has reduced or changed significantly for the other parent that could also have a bearing on this. Just because the reason exists in a COA and you have been successful in a previous decisions doesn't mean it will be obtainable now. Reading the post I suggest it will be extremely difficult. Have you thought about some mediation about the private school issues? FRC's will handle that.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
SPCA has a good point here. Mediation is what you should be seeking. In your efforts to get him to sign the enrolment form you should be disclosing the school fees and your proposal for each to pay half. If he agrees then there is no need to use the the change of assessment process. If he does not agree with the change of school then you could go to the Family Court for orders and also include payment of school fees. Do you have any orders in place?
1. If you enrol your soon in another school without the other parent's permission, you cannot expect that parent to pay half the new fees.

2. Because you take him from one school to another, you need to anticipate that the other parent may not be required to pay half school fees at the first school rate.

3. CSA covers uniforms etc. Additional costs may need to be agreed by both parties for any extra monies.

4. In some instances, both parents do not need to sign the enrolment form. If the other parent objects to the choice of new school then they are not obliged to sign the enrolment form.

5. Do you have court orders that state that both parents have joint responsibility for long term decisions. If so, I think you will find that education comes under that heading.

It is a bit unfortunate that you have spoken about the change of school with your already and given him certain expectations, without consulting the other parent first.
I replied in another topic where you had signed in as a guest.

As Fairgo says, do you have orders? If so, does it say both parents have joint repsonsibilites for long term decisions? This would include education.

If you change schools then I would think that he wouldn't even be under an obligation to pay the original amount because you changed schools.

Uniforms are covered by CSA payment that you already receive. Unless you can get the other parent to agree.

And lastly, I think it is unfortunate that you have already discussed changing schools with your son, got his hopes up, without discussing it with the other parent. If the other parent doesn't agree, how is your son going to feel?
andykay said
And lastly, I think it is unfortunate that you have already discussed changing schools with your son, got his hopes up, without discussing it with the other parent. If the other parent doesn't agree, how is your son going to feel?
I think this is a very valid and important point raised by andykay. You have already indicated it will be difficult if not impossible to send him if the other parent does not agree. Mediation is urgent to see what can be arranged and you must both see this as definitely in the best interests of this boy.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
Hi.  Thanks for the replies - I think. It was always our intention that our son would go to this school.  That's how he knew about it and not through me getting his hopes up or trying to adversely sway the other parent in question.  Children of divorce/separation have been through enough.  Why on earth would I deliberately or callously put a child through more over school fees? I kind of find that a bit insulting but I guess there are some who'd do that.  He's known since before we split up and many peers are going there - hence the discussions on the oval.  Naturally I fully understand how delicate these issues are to children and I most certainly have not acted without giving thought as to what's best for the child. 
 The reason I ask about the uniforms, a fact I'm fully aware CSA payments usually cover is because I had a friend who received an additional payment (granted a long time ago) for new uniforms when her daughter changed to an elite grammar school - uniforms at private schools are ridiculously expensive.  I simply wondered if this was still the case.  I am NOT expecting it, merely enquiring.  Whatever the legislation on that I'd comply with.
 Orders are in place and I'm aware of the Joint rights etc. which is why I'm asking and not just going off willy nilly and doing the wrong thing by swapping schools.   I'm trying in fact to do the right thing, which is to pay half and consult the other parent who has rights - all in a timely manner.
 All I was doing was just asking for advice and hoping some of you who'd been through this might be able to offer some help.  Instead I get judgements and criticism.  Counterintuitive and counterproductive.  I have no interest in conflict.  Most parents want what is in the best interests of their child.  I'm no different.  I seek opinions from others - as I was attempting to do here.  I have no interest in going off half co*ked and drastically upsetting the other parent.  I want peace not drama.
 Thanks for the judgements people.  To those who tried, well - I do appreciate your input.  To the others - seriously there is no place for judgemental people - all you do is show your own contempt.  Not everyone out there is interested in rorting the system.  I want what is just and fair.  Nothing more, nothing less.:)  Mediation will be the key and perhaps a second job if deemed not a chance in hell.  Many thanks again.  I apologise if I came off as greedy in my original post.  Certainly wasn't my intention and really is the last thing I am.  Me and my needs come last.  The child ALWAYS first.

Changing schools to more expensive private school

If you refer to the CSA guide and even the CCH Handbook (which also quotes the same case law), it does not matter which private school the child goes to, just that there was mutual intent on

both sides for the child to attend, but I can guess that you will have to give sound reasons for the change of schools eg. relocation

Per the CSA Guide:


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.

In cases involving school fees 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.

The CSA Guide is a tad incorrect as it does not mention that mutual intent can be formed AFTER separation (or in cases where the parents have never been married). In relation to school uniforms, it is considered that the ordinary amount of child support payments received covers this, thus is not 'claimable'.
valere - you are correct although this situation is about a move to a more expensive private school which means all the criteria of s117 has to be satisfied as well as the intent of parents.

Guest - if mediation does not work with your ex who you describe as a 'hostile bully', then C$A would need to justify a change of assessment for him to pay the extra fees based on the similarity of yours and the ex's financial situations/lifestyles.

He may be on a good income however he may not be able to afford the extra costs. If not, then if you put a Change of Assessment application in, you will probably get what you want.

Good luck.
Guest said
…It was always our intention that our son would go to this school.
That is a very important point as here we have a clear intention of both parents to educate the child in a particular way. So that is a good start and you need to reinforce that in mediation. Clearly I believe mediation at an FRC or other mediation centre is the key and the sooner the better. If you launch into a COA you will probably entrench the opposition to the move. Let someone else make the case for you in a mediation. Clearly there is some problem in communicating and you elude to some difficulty there… Does the father believe he is getting a fair deal in the relationship with his son? Could that be impacting here?

The rules around the COA's were updated when the new formula came in and some subsequent amendments so its not the same as it used to be. The CSA Guide has some material about this and read the post above by valere which talks about the new rules and you will also find it is not all clear cut and a certainty. Work out the core school fees plus the consolidated fee, which is usually for books and trips during the year and perhaps offer to have him contribute to the core school fee only. You could also work out the expected uniform and other costs including all the birthday presents for all the parties they get to go to during a year and again offer to pick up that component if the going gets tough in mediation.
Guest said
I'm trying in fact to do the right thing, which is to pay half and consult the other parent who has rights - all in a timely manner.
I dont believe anyone disagrees with you and you are looking at all options which is sound indeed. I didnt see any judgements and criticisms that you raise but then I have probably hardened to any sensativities by hanging around this place to long. If you are here for as long as some of us ol geezers then you would understand. The comment about not raising any expectations with yr son was not intended as a critisism but I thought was an okay comment. I think you find that with a persuassive argument, a keeness from both parents to educate your son in the way you want and a good mediator you should be able to get some assistance for this. I would suggest when you are jointly mediating with yr ex partner that you talk about "Our son" and not "My son" as in your first post. I know from being around many separated fathers that a number get extremly distressed when they hear that because many have lost much (Including their relationship with children) on separating and suddenly the talk around my son and no longer "his" or "our"any more is like a red rag to a bull. If he has lost his son and feels no longer involved you wont get any support on the school front because he will not even be thinking about the childs interests.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
Guest, in your original post you made no mention of it being the joint wishes of both parents to go to the particular school you are hoping your son will attend in year 5. You also stated that you have had three COAs to have the child's father pay half the school fees.

To a reasonable person, this would indicate that decisions as to which school the child attends have indeed been made by yourself, and not in consultation with the father.

To enable posters to provide answers (without judgement or criticism) there needs to be more information provided.

I think given the information that was provided originally, posters could assume that you were the only one making decisions. You did not clarify that your ex had agreed to the school selected (or that he had agreed to paying school fees) which I assume (rightly or wrongly) are in the orders ie. both education and fees.
I just read the last post.  I think she explained it rather well.  To me it seems that the other party perhaps doesn't mind where the child goes but might not want to pay towards any private schooling if the child has been in private school before they split.  I have mates who think the mother should pay for everything just because they receive child support. Lets face it - it doesn't usually cover everything since the new formula came in. I do the right thing and pay half school fees as well as child support and half of the sporting/ballet stuff.  Uniforms should be paid from the CS she receives though.  Don't we have a responsibility to do the right thing also?

Andykay your disapproval is showing mate.  Ease up.  She's at least willing to pay half and consult the father.  Better than a lot of others out there.

Good luck love.  Remember the child and go for mediation.  "Our son" is a good idea but then again I read it as a simple 1st person type of language and am guilty of referring to our daughters as "my daughters" also.

Changing schools to more expensive private school

Guest, I think you are on the right track in first consulting with the other parent about the change, especially if there is orders for joint responsibility for long term welfare. If unsucessful, keep in mind when you do your COA that the CSA are notoriously inconsistent in their derterminations. Look at some of the points raised by other contributors - they will give you some idea of what arguments you have to be prepared for. Have a read of the case law that could be applied in your COA.

I hope you and the other parent do come to an agreement over the change, as the child's interests and welfare are paramount, but often get over ridden by the attitude and selfishness of one or both parents.
Guest - good to see you are flexible and willing to discuss matters before hand.  As for your daughter, if she was only 2 at the time of separation you won't be able to argue intent regarding private schooling from a Child Support perspective.  The mode of education (ie. private) needs to be established prior to separation is what CSA are guided by it seems.

Find a good public school - here in sourthern NSW you have many to choose from - probably many in the areas close to where you and father reside.  Given their age differences I don't think it matters they'll be at different schools.  She'll make her own friends and won't worry about her brother.

Also, your new husband's income won't be taken into consideration for child support purposes but it will for Family Tax Benefits.

Happy trails to you.

1 guest and 0 members have just viewed this.

Recent Tweets