The family court has the power to make an order for a parent to pay or contribute towards school fees.
Where the parents are married, that power comes from the Matrimonial Causes Act. Agreements made between the parents, before or after separation, can be a decisive factor.
The court will consider how the child is currently or was expected to be educated in making a decision. If the child is not being educated privately, it is far more likely that a court will make a school fees order if there is a clear agreement that the child will attend an independent school.
There are several ways you can decide on how much of a contribution each parent makes towards school fees.
One is to simply talk between yourselves, if it is possible to do so, and come to an arrangement that way. You can then talk with your respective divorce lawyers, who can draft your settlement with your agreement in mind.
If it’s too difficult to sit down and talk with your partner, consider having a four-way talk instead. You can arrange a meeting in a neutral time and place where you, your partner, and your respective family lawyers sit down to try and come to an agreement. A professional approach can be better than an informal one if you suspect there may be conflict.
It may be worth compromising on this issue. It may be the case that one parent is dead set on having their child attend private school, while the other is less particular about where they learn. It could be considered a fair compromise for the parent to whom private school is more important to pay the majority, if not all, of the fees.
Even if this fails, you can still turn to ADR (alternative dispute resolution), including mediation, arbitration and collaborative law. This is where you agree on a third party who can help you decide your case. Deciding on the kind of ADR you choose, the third party’s decision can be binding or non-binding.
If these options do not work for you, you may have to consider settling the matter in the family court. However, this process can be time-consuming and expensive, so it is best to avoid it where possible.
No. Unless you specifically agree to a family-based arrangement, your divorce settlement/child maintenance will not account for private school fees. If your spouse is claiming that it does, contact a family lawyer for more information.
We specialise in divorce and divorce finances at Stowe and have extensive experience dealing with issues concerning private school fees.
We have divorce lawyers in offices throughout the UK, including London, Birmingham, York, Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham, and Leeds, along with towns including Harrogate, Wilmslow, Beverley, Ilkley, Wetherby, and Winchester.
If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today at 0330 056 3171, fill in our online contact form, or learn more about us today.
Submit your details, and we’ll arrange a free, no-obligation callback at a time to suit you. Please note that we cannot offer Legal aid.