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VIC Family Law - Changing School Without Ex-partner's Consent?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Sweeney Todd, 2 February 2016.

  1. Sweeney Todd

    Sweeney Todd Well-Known Member

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    Without divulging too much background, I'll ask simply if I can legally take my children out of their current school and enrol them in another without my ex wife's consent under Family Law? The Final Orders mentioned nothing about schooling. We have equal custody of children / decision making for the children.

    The kids are at a private school and I cannot afford both the tuition and child support and my ex-wife refuses to contribute to their schooling. I can't sustain this.
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Orders for shared parental responsibility mean you must consult with the other parent before making any decisions about their long-term care, welfare and development, namely their educations, names, living arrangements, medical needs, etc.

    Is it a contravention if you act without consultation? I've seen the court say yes, but if you consult and she refuses to negotiate, I've seen the court say no in those circumstances, too.
     
  3. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    Get some advice about whether or not the money you spend on school fees can be counted towards child support payments.
     
  4. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Do you have 50/50 care? Or something close? Inform the school to send her half the bill. Call CSA. They might be able to agree that the school fees are a form of child support and have that deducted from the total child support payable.
     
  5. Sweeney Todd

    Sweeney Todd Well-Known Member

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    I have a meeting with the school this coming Monday. I have previously informed the school that I can pay a portion of the fees and to collect the remainder from the mother. They have attempted to do this but have gotten nowhere with her for the past year. The school has recently reiterated to me that a payment plan has to be setup and that they cannot get involved in 'our family affairs' (to which I agree) and are again seeking payment only from me. *sigh*

    I will call CSA again. I last spoke to them on this matter a little over a year ago and I was told that because I now have x amount of time with the children that I cannot claim payment of fees as a reduction of child support payments (prior to Final Orders, when my ex refused any access to my children, I could claim a reduction as I was paying school fees then). This to me makes me feel as though I'm financially punished for wanting to spend time with my children.
     
  6. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    If you can't afford the school, you could move them to a public school and let the mother decide whether or not she wants to file proceedings about which school they attend. Just make sure you have a track record of trying to negotiate the dispute amicably.
     
  7. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Let us know how the meeting goes. I'd suggest you tell them that because you have XXX% of care. Let's say 40%, hence, you'll only be paying 40% of the costs. And it the ex won't pay the other portion than you'd prefer that the kids were un-enrolled. Make it her responsibility to either pay up or take responsibility for the kids changing schools.

    Just out of interest, how much are the fees? And is there a huge disparity in your incomes?
     
  8. Sweeney Todd

    Sweeney Todd Well-Known Member

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    I'm employed full time and she is now doing family day care, so I'm certainly the higher income earner. Because of that, I've attempted to negotiate with her that I pay approx. 65% of the school fees, and then again with books, uniforms, etc. Rather than discuss she only asserts that I pay for everything, on top of child support. I could do one or the other, but both is unsustainable.

    Depending on how the meeting on Monday goes I am prepared to pull the kids out of the school. Letting her escalate through to the courts sounds like a fair option and - as AllForHer has mentioned - so long as I can demonstrate I've attempted to rationally negotiate I would hope the court would rule in my favour.
     
  9. Sweeney Todd

    Sweeney Todd Well-Known Member

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    Just posting an update after my meeting with the school's business manager.

    I requested to see the enrollment forms as I explained that it was a surprise to me that the kids started attending the school (a few years back, now). Low and behold, my signature is not on the form - only the mother's is. I explained to the business manager that I do not believe I am obligated to pay for the fees; further, that I would not be making any further payments to the school and that they should follow up with my ex for payment, to which the school agreed to do so. We shall see what the fallout is.

    As far as I'm concerned, the intent for the children to attend a private school is the mother's; that I began paying the fees by default was due my thinking that reconciliation was possible at the time (potentially this can be construed as intent, but surely doesn't warrant I pay 100%). I would not be surprised if my ex pursues legal action against me; nor would I be surprised if the school pursues legal action if payment remains outstanding.

    In either eventuality I think I have a strong enough case with supporting evidence that I've attempted to negotiate an amicable arrangement with my ex.

    I just want to cut my losses and remove this liability, which will then make paying my monthly child support payments that much easier to do so.
     
  10. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like you're on the right track, then. Let the school deal with it for now.
     

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