Continued financial contributions towards school fees and extracurricular activities are often one of the most controversial of subjects between divorced or separated parents.
Unlike periodic child support payments where a formula takes into account certain factors (such as each parents income and the allocation of time that the children spend between each household), for non-periodic payments such as extra-curricular activities and private school fees, there is no such formula or black and white answer for who pays what and I’m what proportions.
This article looks at who may be responsible for continued financial contributions for these areas.
Each case will be unique, but the focus should remain on the children and reaching an equitable settlement for the continued financial needs of both parties.
Before embarking on the financial or legal aspects of this area, it is very important to outline that the continued emotional wellbeing and educational development of children should be the priority for both parties.
If private education, extracurricular activities and the such were important to you both as parents – as well as key to your children before separation occurred – these should, where possible, be continued.
In divorce or separation, children are the collateral victims and as such should not be “punished” by any party’s intractability on financial matters.
So, who pays the school fees and extracurricular activities after divorce?
Maintaining a household on one income post divorce can feel or be quite burdensome on each party, particularly where they were otherwise used to having a joint household income. Life post-divorce can bring significant new costs that make continued payment of school fees or extra-curricular activities seem impossible.
One parent will often be leaving the marital home, or it may be the case that the marital home must be sold, and the assets divided, resulting in one or both parties having to spend money on relocation, property rental, new mortgages and the like, or having to meet previous shared expenses on their own. This may make the continued payment of school fees and other activities more prohibitive.
Finance issues aside, there can often be heated logistical issues to discuss. If one parent is relocating, they may argue that they want their children to also relocate or consider a new school.
In the post-separation environment many other previously suppressed thoughts come to a head – one parent may disagree with the continued attendance at a faith school for example.
In a scenario where a separating couple reach an impasse on the continued value of private schooling and who is to pay, going through a mediation process, particularly where other matters need to be agreed (ie parenting arrangements and property settlement matters) – will often assist the parties in reaching an agreed outcome. The same is true for other issues such as extra-curricular activities, payment of private health insurance, uniforms, books, transit fees and the like.
Mediation works for many couples and serves as a platform to iron out financial settlement or build a framework to be m formalised at a later time.
In other circumstances, an application to the Child Support Agency can become necessary and the Child Support Agency has the authority to make a ruling about who is to be responsible for or how the payment of private school fees and other incidentals should be shared.
If a party disagrees with the ruling made by the Child Support Agency, there are review processes in place.
The Court can only deal with non-periodic payments of child support in limited circumstances – and only after the Child Support Agency avenues have been exhausted.
If you find yourself in this category of people, legal advice is highly recommended.
At Damien Greer Lawyers we would almost always advocate mediation as the first port of call and, where interests based negotiations and open discussion can flourish.