You have recently separated from your partner, and have a child or children in private school, or you may wish to send a child to private school. The costs associated with private schooling can be quite expensive and add up significantly when considering multiple children. A common question on each parent’s mind following such a separation is who pays for the school fees? And does child support include school fees? The following article will shed some light on these questions and provide some clarity!
What Is Child Support?
Child support is the payment from one parent to another following separation. It’s primary purpose is to assist the other parent financially to ensure that the needs of the children are adequately satisfied. In Australia, child support is regulated by the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth).
Child Support Assessment Formula
The Department of Human Services utilises a Child Support Assessment formula (CSA) to calculate the amount of child support which should be paid. However, this formula is based on children attending a state school, and not a private school.
The main factors considered in the formula are:
- The number of Children
- The number of nights each child spends with each parent
- The taxable income of both parents
Click here to estimate the costs of child support.
Child Support And School Fees
If both parents have come to an agreement that their child, or children should attend private school, the CSA will then go on to consider including a proportionate amount of the school fees in a re-assessment process.
In the event there is no such agreement, a parent may try to vary an assessment through an internal review process via the Agency, or by applying a court in particular circumstances. The parent pursuing the change can say that the child is being educated in a manner that was expected by both parents – and this should be reflected in a variation to the CSA. The outcome depends on whether both parents have agreed that their child/ren should attend a private school.
The parent’s intention is often shown by the completion and signing of school enrolment forms. If both parents have agreed that the payment of school fees was made for the purpose of child support, the situation becomes more complicated. In this instance, the payment can be credited as a third-party payment. In the event the parent receiving child support is not in agreement that the payment of school fees was intended to form part of the CSA. The parent paying can still have some of this payment credited as child support as a non-agency payment in the case:
- The paying parent pays 70% of their normal monthly child support payment on time and;
- In that case a maximum of 30% of the monthly payment can be credited towards the school fees
Note: Only paying parents that have 14% or less of the time spent with the children (regular care) can claim a non-agency payment.
If a parent’s level of care exceeds ‘regular care’ (14%), they are unable to apply for a non-agency payment. In this case that parent can apply to the CSA for a change of assessment. This procedure is also applicable if the costs of maintaining the child is substantially affected by the greater costs of schooling in the way that both of the parents intended.
In Determining whether the parents were in agreement that the child/ren should be educated privately, the CSA will consider:
- The financial situation of both parents
- The type of education intended by both parents for the child (rather than a particular school)
Note: the mere fact the parent paying the child support can afford to pay fees is not in itself a reason for requiring that parent to contribute to private school fees.
Do I Need To Also Pay For Extras Such As Uniforms, School Excursions And Extra-Curricular Activities Etc?
The short answer is no. There is no obligation by the parent paying child support to pay for these additional expenses where the child support is assessed by the Child Support Agency. This is because the child support is designed to encapsulate all your child’s financial needs. Any ‘additional’ expenses are included in this payment, and it is the duty of the parent who receives the payment to budget the payment accordingly to sufficiently meet the needs of the child.
Importance Of Seeking Legal Advice
It is important to note when assessing child support and school fees, and who pays that every case is different and needs to be assessed depending on your own unique situation, and needs. Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our experienced family lawyers.
If you have any more questions involving family law, and circumstances involving your children, check out some of our other articles.