Should My Ex Pay Our Child's Private School Fees?

Article Kara Cook 12 March 2024

Should My Ex Pay Our Child's Private School Fees?

Many parents are finding it challenging to navigate the financial responsibilities of raising a child post-breakup or divorce. The current economic climate and rising cost of living means that everything is becoming more expensive.

There is also the well-being of the child to keep in mind. For example, if the child is going to a private school, the cost of tuition can be a substantial burden, but parents are often reluctant to move children from schools where they have established friendship and social groups. 

Many parents then come to see us, as experienced family lawyers, with the question: Can I get my ex to pay our child's school fees?

Are school fees covered by child support?

Both parents are legally obligated to provide financial support for their child after a breakup, including educational expenses. However, the specifics can vary depending on factors such as parenting arrangements, court orders, and the financial capabilities of each parent.

Child support in Australia can be applied to cover school fees, however it is not automatically included in the child support assessment. If parents agree to share the cost of school fees, they can document their decision in a private agreement or apply to the Child Support Agency to include school fees and related expenses in the assessment.

What options are available to obtain financial support for education expenses?

If you do not have a private agreement in place, and education is not included in your Child Support Assessment, there are a number of factors to consider:

  • What does your Parenting Agreement stipulate?

If you have a formal parenting agreement in place, it likely outlines each parent's financial responsibilities, including educational expenses. Review the terms of the agreement to understand what obligations you and your ex have regarding school fees.

  • Does your ex-partner want or support a private education for your child?

Keep detailed records of all communications, agreements, and expenses related to your child's education – this will be helpful if legal intervention becomes necessary and can prove that both parents were in support of a private education for example.  It can also be used in court to ensure that both parents fulfill their previously agreed financial obligations.

  • Place your child’s needs first and keep the lines of communication open.

Open and respectful communication with your ex-partner is crucial. Approach the topic of school fees calmly and rationally, focusing on your child's needs rather than personal grievances. Discuss the importance of contributing to your child's education and explore options for sharing the financial burden.

  • Consider mediation or seek legal assistance.

If communication with your ex proves difficult or unproductive, consider seeking legal assistance to help with negotiations or to obtain Court Orders that can be enforced. A mediator can also help facilitate constructive discussions and negotiate an agreement that works for both parties and, most importantly, benefits the child.


How can CDQ Help?

There are no specific laws compelling your ex-partner to pay your child's school fees, however there are steps you can take to address the issue constructively and explore potential solutions. By seeking legal assistance from an experienced family lawyer, you may be able to avoid taking the matter to Court and negotiate an agreement with the assistance of a lawyer. 

The family law team at CDQ can work with you to reach a resolution and reduce any potential ambiguity in the future.  If you would like to discuss your situation contact the team today on ph: 02 8556 0130.