VIC Child support and private school fees

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Elizabeth83

Active Member
18 June 2020
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0
31
Hello,
My partner has had a lot of issues with his ex in terms of withholding of the children, slanderous allegations and false IVOs and police reports since their break up. All fully investigated and found with nothing to answer to.
His eldest child started high school at a private school this year. His ex had asked for him to agree to enrolment last year as she had got a high paying job and could afford to send both children to the school. He agreed only on the basis that she confirmed verbally numerous times and then in mediation also that she would pay all private school fees. Unfortunately he trusted her word without getting that in writing and signed the enrolment papers so CSA have ruled he must pay half of the fees. He plans to have her charged with obtaining financial advantage by deception but hasn't got the ball rolling on that just yet.
Then at the beginning of the year she changed her mind and said that she couldn't afford for their youngest child to go to private school anymore so she changed his school - against my partners wishes and without his agreement - to another school closer to her home and a 40 minute drive from where he lives.
What I am worried about now is if he is not able to argue CSAs decision he pay the fees that she will enrol his youngest in the private school as well and will use his agreement for the eldest child to go as evidence he agrees for this child to go as well and will be stuck paying for private schooling for both children.
He is not on a high enough wage to justify paying for private schooling and does not actually see value in it himself as he has no problem with public schooling and that had always been their plan until she asked to send them to private school last year. At the time they had already toured and applied to enrol in a public school and this only changed to keep the peace with his ex.
Is there a way he can ensure he doesn't get slogged with the second childs private school fees as well?? Is there any likelihood of the charge of obtaining financial advantage by deception being taken seriously?
We are struggling to afford our own expenses as it is and this would mean we wouldn't be able to buy a family home.
Thanks for your time
 

Atticus

Well-Known Member
6 February 2019
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CSA have ruled he must pay half of the fees.
First of all, Just to get a better idea of where things are at ... what do you mean exactly by CSA have 'ruled' .... Has there been some sort of review taken place or just been advised by phone, letter?
Is there any likelihood of the charge of obtaining financial advantage by deception being taken seriously?
Doubtful. Police would have to charge her, that will only happen if
a) they could be bothered even interviewing her
b) They are satisfied that there is enough evidence to warrant taking her to court, ie, actual evidence that she fraudulently obtained a financial advantage.

There are possibly 2 ways you can go with this but will depend on what you have already pursued with CSA?
 

Elizabeth83

Active Member
18 June 2020
5
0
31
Yes CSA investigated and because there was nothing in writing to say she had agreed to pay all fees they have said he must pay half. Unfortunately they wouldn't consider the mediation notes as evidence and although he had included it in every message about finance to her throughout the year that he was not to be held responsible for school fees she never responded directly to that so CSA have just taken her word for it.

Unfortunately she has smeared his name everywhere with her false allegations and he's being treated like a deadbeat Dad by CSA even though he paid child support every single fortnight calculated from their website from the day he left before she went to CSA. The schooling wouldn't be as much of an issue except that she has also lied about her income and continually withholds one of the kids so that his regular payments are higher as well. She purposely went through CSA after finding that her taxable income from the previous year was significantly lower due to a redundancy payout and has been on triple that amount for this entire financial year (before going to CSA) which CSA ignored when he immediately put in for a change of assessment.

Would it be sufficient to write a letter about the private schooling now saying he does not agree for the second child to attend the private schooling to cover that avenue? Is it possible to withdraw his consent for the other child?
 

Keeks

Well-Known Member
28 February 2019
26
1
124
We had some similar issues with CSA and private school fees.

Mum refused to entertain any option other than her choice of school, but Dad was not in a position to sign up for 10 years of big fee invoices, and there were quite a number of other reasons he didn't agree with her choice. She said she would take on full financial responsibility for the fees if Dad agreed to accept the enrolment - which he did to keep the peace (the school required both parents to approve), then she immediately turned around once the child started and requested CSA review and make him pay half. Thankfully we were able to demonstrate that Dad's preference was another school and they found that Dad did not share Mum's intent to send kids to that particular school.

At that stage we didn't have any orders or parenting plan, but have since signed orders by consent to formalise the payment arrangement. Even with the orders though, our lawyer was very clear that Dad should never sign paperwork with the school which would make him liable for the fees. The school won't care what the arrangement is between Mum and Dad, they just want the dollars from someone, and if they have you down as a signatory, you will be chased for the cash.

Schools don't seem hugely competent in supporting separated families through issues like these, and quite often their forms will just assume mum and dad are a unit. It makes for a bit of a minefield when you're trying to sort out enrolment but only one is paying. Just be super careful about signing any future documents with the school.

I feel for you @Elizabeth83 - it can be a hard slog trying to deal with legacy financial (on top of the emotional) issues when you're trying to create some security and an optimistic future for your new family unit.
 

Elizabeth83

Active Member
18 June 2020
5
0
31
We had some similar issues with CSA and private school fees.

Mum refused to entertain any option other than her choice of school, but Dad was not in a position to sign up for 10 years of big fee invoices, and there were quite a number of other reasons he didn't agree with her choice. She said she would take on full financial responsibility for the fees if Dad agreed to accept the enrolment - which he did to keep the peace (the school required both parents to approve), then she immediately turned around once the child started and requested CSA review and make him pay half. Thankfully we were able to demonstrate that Dad's preference was another school and they found that Dad did not share Mum's intent to send kids to that particular school.

At that stage we didn't have any orders or parenting plan, but have since signed orders by consent to formalise the payment arrangement. Even with the orders though, our lawyer was very clear that Dad should never sign paperwork with the school which would make him liable for the fees. The school won't care what the arrangement is between Mum and Dad, they just want the dollars from someone, and if they have you down as a signatory, you will be chased for the cash.

Schools don't seem hugely competent in supporting separated families through issues like these, and quite often their forms will just assume mum and dad are a unit. It makes for a bit of a minefield when you're trying to sort out enrolment but only one is paying. Just be super careful about signing any future documents with the school.

I feel for you @Elizabeth83 - it can be a hard slog trying to deal with legacy financial (on top of the emotional) issues when you're trying to create some security and an optimistic future for your new family unit.

Thankyou so much, at least we're not alone in this but I'm glad you guys had a better outcome!
Yes I wish we'd known for him not to sign the enrolment form. :( I think we were just naive in thinking she would keep her word and trying to do what was right for his child and hadn't considered she would just outright lie the way she has.
Thanks again
 

Keeks

Well-Known Member
28 February 2019
26
1
124
Thankyou so much, at least we're not alone in this but I'm glad you guys had a better outcome!
Yes I wish we'd known for him not to sign the enrolment form. :( I think we were just naive in thinking she would keep her word and trying to do what was right for his child and hadn't considered she would just outright lie the way she has.
Thanks again
True that - I am constantly surprised by various turns of events or actions from the ex in our lives. Not sure if you're familiar with the fable of the frog and the scorpion - Google it if not. It perfectly captures our experience and maybe you'll get something from it too. Good luck
 

sammy01

Well-Known Member
27 September 2015
4,526
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2,894
so agree to the change to the public school. WIN. Make it clear in the corespondence that he won't be agreeing to the other kid going private... As soon as he signed the enrollment form he shot himself in the foot.

" He plans to have her charged with obtaining financial advantage by deception but hasn't got the ball rolling on that just yet. "
Don't bother, he signed the paperwork. You can't say he was coerced. He signed it. Simple. He didn't insist on a clause to say he consents to the enrollment BUT not to being financially liable.
 

Elizabeth83

Active Member
18 June 2020
5
0
31
so agree to the change to the public school. WIN. Make it clear in the corespondence that he won't be agreeing to the other kid going private... As soon as he signed the enrollment form he shot himself in the foot.

" He plans to have her charged with obtaining financial advantage by deception but hasn't got the ball rolling on that just yet. "
Don't bother, he signed the paperwork. You can't say he was coerced. He signed it. Simple. He didn't insist on a clause to say he consents to the enrollment BUT not to being financially liable.

Thanks for your reply. Yeh I know I was so frustrated when I found out he'd signed it.😣
It's hard to explain the situation completely because it's become so ridiculous with everything she's done but he's got a lot of evidence now of her criminal behaviour and her psychological and financial abuse of him throughout their relationship and since the breakup and of recently intentionally accessing his confidential mental health information so hopefully they take him seriously.
 

Atticus

Well-Known Member
6 February 2019
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221
2,394
Yes CSA investigated and because there was nothing in writing to say she had agreed to pay all fees they have said he must pay half. Unfortunately they wouldn't consider the mediation notes as evidence and although he had included it in every message about finance to her throughout the year that he was not to be held responsible for school fees she never responded directly to that so CSA have just taken her word for it.
Problem was signing an agreement for private schooling at all .... CSA only need to be satisfied that both parents have an 'intent' to have their kid/s attend private school, so even if she had agreed in writing to pay all fees, & subsequently couldn't afford to due to loss of income, another baby or whatever, if she lodged a COA application, CSA may still have found that he is liable because of the intent.

Anyway, the only avenues I can see is to seek a review of the decision with the AAT >>>> Child Support overview | Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Call them & see if they may accept a review... they may also be able to consider some of the documents/notes that CSA were not willing to.

secondly, if the second child is sent to private school (or if paying half fees for the eldest is causing financial hardship already) apply for a COA Reason 3 >>>> 2.6.9 Reason 3 - high costs of caring for, educating or training the child in the manner expected by the parents | Child Support Guide

Would it be sufficient to write a letter about the private schooling now saying he does not agree for the second child to attend the private schooling to cover that avenue? Is it possible to withdraw his consent for the other child?
I think being on record as not agreeing is at least something in writing .... withdrawing consent for eldest due to being misled, or at least a material change of circumstances since the agreement was made is something best taken up with AAT
 

Elizabeth83

Active Member
18 June 2020
5
0
31
Problem was signing an agreement for private schooling at all .... CSA only need to be satisfied that both parents have an 'intent' to have their kid/s attend private school, so even if she had agreed in writing to pay all fees, & subsequently couldn't afford to due to loss of income, another baby or whatever, if she lodged a COA application, CSA may still have found that he is liable because of the intent.

Anyway, the only avenues I can see is to seek a review of the decision with the AAT >>>> Child Support overview | Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Call them & see if they may accept a review... they may also be able to consider some of the documents/notes that CSA were not willing to.

secondly, if the second child is sent to private school (or if paying half fees for the eldest is causing financial hardship already) apply for a COA Reason 3 >>>> 2.6.9 Reason 3 - high costs of caring for, educating or training the child in the manner expected by the parents | Child Support Guide


I think being on record as not agreeing is at least something in writing .... withdrawing consent for eldest due to being misled, or at least a material change of circumstances since the agreement was made is something best taken up with AAT

Thankyou so much for that info. Very helpful and we will definitely look into it. :)