Who is responsible for paying private school fees after divorce?
With private education becoming increasingly common it is no surprise that legal disputes between separating couples often arise in relation to who is responsible for paying private school fees after divorce.
The issue can present a particular problem for couples with modest means who have made sacrifices in order to pay for private education. Their financial situations are likely to be considerably affected by the separation and in some instances this can make the burden of school fees become unmanageable.
Parents are always encouraged to do their best to reach an agreement. However, if agreement cannot be reached between the parents then the court can order them to pay some or all of the school fees.
In reaching a decision the courts will weigh up a number of factors, such as:
The parents’ financial circumstances
The court will look at what each parent can afford, given their specific financial circumstances. School fees will not be viewed as a necessity, with other needs ranking higher in priority, such as housing. However if a parent can afford the fees then the court has the power to require them to pay those fees where it considers it appropriate to do so.
The parents’ intentions
In reaching a decision the court will look at what the parents’ intentions had been for the education of their children.
The current schooling arrangements
The court will also take note of the current schooling arrangements. The best interests of the children are always at the heart of court decisions. Judges will appreciate the stress that can be caused by making a child move schools, especially at such a difficult time, when the separation makes them particularly vulnerable.
When considering responsibility for paying private school fees after divorce it is also necessary to consider any contractual commitments the parents may have entered into. Either or both parents may have signed an agreement taking responsibility for making payments and could therefore be held legally liable for any non-payment. This potential liability should be taken into account in any financial settlement.
Some private schools can offer financial assistance to struggling parents, and scholarships might also be available. It is therefore always worth discussing the situation with the school.
If the parents are unmarried then the court can make an order for school fees to be paid under Schedule 1 of the Children Act.
How we can help you
So, if you are separating are looking to appoint a solicitor who is experienced in dealing with all the financial implications, including responsibility for paying private school fees after divorce, then contact solicitor Paul Jordan for a free initial chat about how he can help.
Paul Jordan is a specialist family law solicitor based in Devon who specialises in dealing with financial disputes. He can be contacted on 01271 372128 or by email at [email protected]