Can I force my ex
to pay school fees?

An increasing number of parents have made the decision to educate their children at fee-paying schools. The parents have made the decision together, and all is well until those parents separate and an argument breaks out about who can afford to pay the school fees, and who should pay the school fees.

The court has the power to make a school fees order as part of the financial settlement on divorce. If parents are not married, or your divorce settlement did not include the payment of school fees, the court can also make an order for school fees under Schedule 1 of the Children Act.

If you are affected by any of the issues outlined here, please do get in touch today. We are here to help.

“The court has the power to make a school fees order as part of the financial settlement on divorce. If parents are not married, or your divorce settlement did not include the payment of school fees, the court can also make an order for school fees under Schedule 1 of the Children Act.”

Johnathan Casey, solicitor

Applications for Orders Under Schedule 1 of the Children Act

If you are a separated, unmarried parent, or if your divorce settlement did not include an order for the payment of school fees, you can apply to the court for a child’s school fees to be paid by the other parent ,. This application is more likely to succeed if the child attended private school during the relationship and at the time of separation. However, the court will decide each case on its own facts and the court has a broad discretion. The court will have to 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 make a decision in relation to the payment of the school fees.

Enforcing a School Fees order

If you have an order in place and the other parent will not pay the school fees, the order can be enforced through the courts. However, if there has been a change of circumstances and your ex-partner cannot pay, they may apply to the court to vary an existing order and potentially circumvent paying the fees. There must be good reason for this, like the loss of employment. In any event, seeking advice from a solicitor in relation to applying for an order, or enforcing an order, is recommended.

Ultimately, it is best for both parties if the payment of school fees can be agreed, but the court is there for those who cannot. A school fees order must be affordable, and the court does take the needs of the child or children into account, particularly if removal from school is likely to adversely affect them. An order can cover the entire school fees and may cover extras such as school uniform, school trips, extra-curricular activities and even boarding.

If you are considering applying to the court for an order in relation to school fees or if you are concerned about the impact of a separation on the payment of school fees, you should obtain specialist legal advice from a family lawyer.

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