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QLD Child Support - Fee Reduction for Financial Hardship?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Randwick, 6 August 2014.

  1. Randwick

    Randwick Active Member

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    Hi
    I am a divorced father with two girls at Private school. We have settled matters financially on the basis of a letter between us with no court based agreement. This was when we were amicable after the divorce. That basis of communication does not exist now however, and I cannot see it improving.

    My financial situation when we split was a lot better than it is now, due to periods of unemployment draining all cash that I had. I undertook to pay for the girls secondary education at the private school with the letter between us, and maintained this as best I could, but cannot sustain this (there is a debt of over $11,000. owing to the school, and they have allowed for nominal payments from me of $25. a week)

    The enrolment agreement for the girls to attend the school is in joint names, but she continues to want me to pay all of the fees. She has decided to contribute some money but only sees it as a loan to me which I disagree with.
    Also Child support has reassessed me based on a period last year (from July to Jan this year) when I earned $56k. I was made redundant from this position though and have only recently found employment again, and had one pay so far.

    I have been assessed to pay $960 a month by Child Support. Also she wants me to pay $950 a month for school fees, I cannot do either as I have large personal debt accrued in my periods of unemployment.
    I am suffering high stress and financially I am very concerned of an accrued debt of Child Support fees and Private school fees over the next 2.5 years till the girls reach 18.

    What are my options?
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    The first thing you should do is call the Child Support Agency and tell them you've been made redundant. Not sure what the outcome will be, but they should know your situation and adjust accordingly.

    The next thing is to bring your ex to mediation about the children's school fees. Unless it was written into consent orders and stamped by the court, there is no reason you should not be splitting that cost 50/50, especially if you both agreed to send them to a private school. If private school is decidedly unaffordable by either if you, then it's time to consider public school. A court will not enable a person to go bankrupt because a mother wants money for a private school.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Randwick

    Randwick Active Member

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  4. Randwick

    Randwick Active Member

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    Thanks for the reply.
    I have not been made redundant but only received my first pay after a period of unemployment. I appreciate the comments re court orders and they don't exist, so from the sounds of it she will have to contribute a lot to of the outstanding fees of $11,000.
    Also my ex now has 100% care of the girls and I this is only a recent change due to I feel the wedge she is trying to drive between me and the girls. They are 15, and I would ideally like them to come over as they used to which was every second weekend (Friday Saturday and Sunday nights as well as every Wednesday night).
    Is there any thing I can do here to change things back to the way things used to be. I have a very close relationship with them and we txt and chat most days.
    Also my ex has remarried and has three daughters of his own. There is a court order that restricts the amount of time he can spend with his kids to every Thursday night for a couple of hours.
    As a father of the girls I am concerned as to why this is in place, I have broached the subject but am met by - don't go there. Is there any way I can find out as I do have a concern for their welfare.

    Regards
     
  5. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Parenting matters are slightly more complicated, but if there are no parenting or consent orders in place, there is nothing stopping you from seeing your kids.

    The first thing to do is to call the mother to Family Dispute Resolution to try and settle the matter of care arrangements (and, while you're at it, schooling fees) outside of court. This way, you can a) try and reach an agreement, but b) failing agreement, receive the appropriate certificate to enable you to pursue the matter with the court.

    There are some things you should consider ahead of time.

    First, the girls both have an express right to know, spend time with and be cared for by each of their parents on a regular basis, insofar as such arrangements meet their best interests. It sounds to me like you live close to the mother and have a strong bond with the kids, so the elements of reasonable practicability of such arrangements shouldn't be an issue.

    Second, the girls are both old enough to have their opinions heard before the court. At 15, it is unlikely that a court will go against what the girls want, so if they say they want to spend more time with you, that's probably what they will order. To get a clear idea about if the mother is driving a wedge between you and your kids, the court may order a family report that assesses each of the girls separately, you, your ex-wife and probably her husband.

    On the subject of her husband, there is not much you can do on that front, but it may help to keep objective about the situation.

    This is more of a 'personal advice' thing than a legal thing - try and remember that his story could be a more extreme version of yours. The mother of his kids may have made false allegations of sexual abuse and alienated the kids from him, making them scared of him without genuine reason to be so. It may be true, it may not, but for your sanity, keep in mind that you don't know his story, just what you see from the outside looking in. The other way to view it is that your ex-wife's taste in men probably hasn't changed since she was with you, so he's probably a lot like you - loves his kids, wants to avoid confrontation for their sake, did whatever he had to to achieve that.

    So, third, I guess given the girls' age, a dispute around parenting matters probably won't take a long time like they usually do with disputes involving very young children.

    But above all else and if you can, try and talk to your kids first. They're at an age where they are probably getting a grasp on the situation and identifying for themselves who is the conflict party. Find out what they want - do they want to spend more time with you? Would they be open to staying over like they used to? If not, why? Is it because of the conflict? What can you do to ease their worries?

    If you are close to them, I can only assume they probably miss being with you, but probably also don't want to upset their mum. These are things you should write down so you can bring the argument to mediation.

    Hope this helps. Feel free to ask some more questions if you wish.
     
  6. Randwick

    Randwick Active Member

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  7. Randwick

    Randwick Active Member

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    Hi
    I have a joint application signed by myself and my ex (we are divorced) for my 2 girls to attend a private girls school. We have had a financial settlement (not court registered we did it ourselves, when we were amicable). There is no court order regarding the school fees. My ex is hanging on to wanting me to pay child support, which is now 100% for her care, much to my sadness, and I feel she has changed their attitude towards me. I do believe though that we have a close Father and Daughter(s) relationship, we txt every day and talk most days. I would like them to come over for dinner and stay over as they used to do until earlier this year, when things changed as to my financial position dramatically changed and I was unable to pay school fees 100% and private child support of $880 a month. She has now gone to collect via child support and still wants me to pay 100% school fees.
    My issue is I cannot pay both and I cannot afford a lawyer either.
    The school has been great at allowing the outstanding school fees to continue (I am paying a nominal $25. per week), but the debt mounts.
    My understanding is because the school application was in joint names (no court orders) and a letter of intent (over 4 years old) to pay but not able to be kept up with due to unforseen financial issues on my part), what are my options?
    Seek mediation?
    If she still stands her ground do I advise the school I can no longer pay any share, and if the girls are to remain she has to take over 100%?
    The outstanding amount of school fees, what is the recourse on that as it is in joint names?

    Thanks
     

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