As a general rule, a parent cannot be required to pay additional child support for private school fees. After all, the purpose of child support assessments is to ensure, as far as possible, that children receive proper and adequate support.
However, a parent may be required to pay additional child support for private school fees where there is either:
- a previous agreement by the parent to the child attending a private school; or
- good reasons relating to the child’s welfare which dictate attendance at the private school.
In such circumstances, the parent may be liable to pay additional child support for private school fees to the extent that he/she has the reasonable financial means to do so.
The mere fact that a parent paying child support can afford the fees or is a wealthy person is not in itself a reason to require the parent to pay additional child support for private school fees.
In summary, where a parent has previously agreed to the child attending a private school or where there are good reasons relating to the child’s welfare which dictate attendance at the private school, then:
- The parent who can afford to pay their share of the private school fees must pay their share.
- The parent who cannot afford to pay some or all of their share of the private school fees cannot be forced to do so beyond their reasonable financial means.
Important information for parents about child support
If parents attempt to evade child support obligations by deliberately reducing their income, they will not be able to argue that they do not have the reasonable financial means to pay additional child support for private school fees. A liable parent’s child support income is based on earning capacity, not income. It is not open to a parent to quit their job or take lower paid employment in an attempt to minimise their obligations.
Every family is different and every situation unique. It’s important to get the right legal advice specific to your needs.
If you have questions about child support and school fees, please contact our Perth and Joondalup family lawyers to help assess your circumstances and advise you on the best course of action.