Many parents choose for their children to attend fee-paying schools.
Whilst in a relationship with the other parent whether cohabiting or married the decision no doubt was made together. When parents separate there is a real risk that one parent may decide, primarily for financial reasons, they no longer wish for their child to attend the fee paying school. What if anything can the other parent do?
Can I force my ex to pay our child's school fees?
The Courts in England and Wales have the power to make school fee orders in Financial Orders within Divorce Proceedings (if the parents were married) and under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989, if the parents were not married, or married but the Financial Order did not make provision for school fees.
Applications for school fee Orders Under Schedule 1 of the Children Act
For a parent who is separated, unmarried or married but the Financial Order within the Divorce did not include School Fee Order, you can apply to the court for a child’s school fees to be paid by the other parent.
The application is more likely to succeed if prior to the separation the child already attended a fee paying school. The Court will however decide all cases on their individual facts. The court will consider the income of the parents and the financial commitments of each parent, together with the needs of the child and the expectations for the child. Upon considering all these factors, the court will decide whether a school fee order is merited.
School Fee Order within Divorce
It is strongly recommended that married parents upon divorcing also obtain a Financial Order to determine all finances of the marriage whether capital or income. The Financial Order can also make provision that one parent or indeed both parents are responsible for payment of the child's school fee. The provision of the school fee order should detail the term of the payments and upon what circumstances they cease.
Enforcing a School Fees order
Whether you have obtained a School Fee Order within a Financial Order in Divorce or under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 if the other parent contrary to the Order ceases to make payment you can apply to the Court to enforce.
Can I discharge or Vary School Fees Order
The paying parent can apply to the Court in the event of a change of circumstances for example a loss of their employment to request the school fee order is either varied as to the amount the paying parent pays or discharged in it's entirety.
When to seek advice from solicitors
It is advisable to seek advice as to the prospect and process of applying successfully for a School Fee Order as soon as possible to ensure there is no interruption to your child's education. School Fee Orders can cover the entire school fees or a proportion, they can cover extra-curricular activities, school uniforms, school trips and boarding.