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Does Child Support Cover School Fees in Australia?

Child Support Cover School Fees | Justice Family Lawyers

Child support in Australia can cover school fees, but it is not automatically included in the child support assessment. Parents can agree to share the cost of school fees in a private agreement or apply to the Child Support Agency to include school fees in the assessment.

How Do Courts Determine if School Fees Should be Covered?

When determining whether school fees should be covered as part of child support, courts consider several factors:

  1. Best Interests of the Child: The primary consideration is always what is in the child’s best interests. If it is determined that a particular educational institution or program significantly benefits the child, the court may factor in those costs.
  1. The Child’s Previous Standard of Living: If the child previously attended a fee-paying institution or had a family tradition of attending a particular type of school, the court may consider continuing that.
  1. The Ability of Parents to Pay: The financial situation of both parents is a crucial factor. If one parent can afford to pay but refuses, and the other parent cannot afford the entirety of the fees, the court may order contributions based on financial capacities.
  1. The Involvement of Both Parents in the Decision: If both parents were involved in deciding on a more expensive school, it might be considered unreasonable for one parent to refuse later to contribute to those fees.
  1. Special Needs or Talents of the Child: If a child has particular educational needs or demonstrated talents that can be better catered to in a specific institution, the court may factor in those additional costs.
  1. Any Agreements or Arrangements Previously Made: If parents had a prior agreement regarding school fees, the court would consider this, although such agreements are not binding if they’re deemed not in the child’s best interests.
  1. Change of Circumstances: If there’s a significant change in a parent’s financial circumstances, such as job loss or medical emergencies, the court may reconsider the allocation of school fee responsibilities.

It’s essential to note that decisions vary based on individual circumstances, and while these are general guidelines, outcomes can differ from case to case. If faced with such a situation, consult our child support lawyers, so we can help you achieve the best possible result for your child.

Are Public School Fees Included In Child Support?

No, public school fees are not automatically included in child support in Australia.

While public education in Australia is generally free, there are some costs that parents may be expected to pay, such as voluntary school contributions, uniforms, and extracurricular activities. However, these costs are not considered essential for a child’s education, so they are not automatically included in the child support assessment.

Also read: Mum Ordered To Pay Back $4,142.73 In Child Support

How are College or University Tuitions Handled in Child Support Agreements? 

Child support typically extends to children up to the age of 18. However, the situation becomes different regarding college or university tuition. The standard child support system might not automatically encompass post-secondary education expenses.

If a child over 18 is still completing secondary education, parents can apply to extend child support until the school year’s end when the child turns 18. Parents can draft a private child support agreement, either a Binding Child Support Agreement, which necessitates legal advice for both parties or a Limited Child Support Agreement for tertiary education costs. 

What Happens if a Parent Fails to Pay for Agreed-Upon School Fees?

Several steps can be taken when a parent doesn’t pay agreed-upon school fees. Initially, it’s recommended to communicate with the other parent to understand any potential reasons for the non-payment. If the fees are part of a formal child support agreement, the Child Support Agency can step in to collect overdue amounts.

However, if there’s a court-ordered agreement in place, the parent can face legal consequences, and the court may enforce the payment or establish a payment plan. Mediation is another option, where a neutral third party assists both parents in reaching a mutual understanding. Delayed payments might accrue interest or additional fees, and in severe cases, the owed amount might be forwarded to debt collectors. 

Family Court Decides On High-Cost Private Schooling Amid Financial Struggles And Parental Disagreement

Ms. Stewart wanted to send her children to private schools that cost a lot of money, but she and her ex-husband, Mr. Stewart, couldn’t agree on this because the yearly costs were so high: $50,000.

Ms. Stewart wanted their son to attend the same school as her ex-husband and father. She asked the court to make this happen. She said Mr. Stewart could pay for many of these costs if he spent less on other pleasures. Ms. Stewart was ready to sell assets, like a property worth $1.35 million, to pay for school.

She got $861 a week from social security and child support. She had a lot of bills, though, like a HECS debt of $64,523. Judge Stephen Coates decided the kids should attend a public school because Ms. Stewart hadn’t shown she could pay for private school.

He thought that the kids wouldn’t lose out because of this choice. Ms. Stewart appealed and even said that, despite her financial problems, she would pay for all of the school costs.

However, the Family Court disagreed with her and told her to pay the costs of the unsuccessful appeal.

Does Child Support Cover School Fees?

Confused about how child support covers school fees? You’re not alone. Legal obligations can be complex, especially regarding your child’s education. At Justice Family Lawyers, we specialize in navigating these intricacies. Let us guide you to clarity and ensure your child’s best interests are protected. Don’t leave it to chance – secure their future today. Reach out to Justice Family Lawyers for expert advice and peace of mind.