13 Mar Does my Child Support Assessment include Private School Fees
Simply put, no. A standard child support assessment is based on a child attending a state school.
In special circumstances however, a party can apply for a change of a standard child support assessment to include provisions for private school fees.
Section 117(2)(b)(ii) of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 provides that a change of an assessment may be granted if the costs of maintaining a child are significantly affected by the costs of caring for, educating or training a child in a way both parents intended.
The question as to whether or not a standard assessment will be amended to include provision for private school fees, is twofold:
1. Are there significant additional costs involved in maintaining the child?
Whether or not the extra costs incurred are considered significant depends on whether the additional costs are significant in relation to the already assessed costs of the child.
If the additional amount is small in comparison to the assessed costs, the Child Support Agency (“CSA”) may find the costs of maintaining the child are not significantly affected and there is no reason to change the assessment.
2. Are those costs incurred as a result of an agreement between the parents about how the child will be maintained? That is, was there an agreed intention that the child should attend a private school?
Where a parent has not agreed to a child attending private schooling, they will not be liable to contribute to the fees unless there are reasons relating to the child’s welfare that mean the child should attend a private school (however this then relates to a separate category under which a change of an assessment would be lodged).
The parents “intention” is usually evidenced by the completion of and signing of a school enrolment form.
If the above two matters are proved, then the CSA may look at including a proportionate amount of the school fees in a “reassessment”.
1. In order for a change in assessment to be granted, the CSA must also find that the payer is able to afford to pay the extra fees; and
2. Simply because the parents agreed that a child would attend a private primary school, it is not presumed that the same expectation applies to secondary school.
Of course all families are unique and if you have any questions regarding your family law matters you should seek independent legal advice regarding the facts that are relevant in your matter.