WA School Fees and Co-Parenting Time

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cubanpete

Member
3 July 2017
2
0
1
Hi All, just trying to get some advice going through early stages of separation and tried to get everything agreed between us. We are as amicable as you can be but the manipulation which I didn't see when married has now started to come into play! I have sought initial legal advice but that was on the view we would agree with what I feel was reasonable items but obviously, that's my biased opinion.

Scenario 1 - School Fees
Me (Dad) - works FT and has an income of $180k incl super + $55k variable bonus (sales and performance)
Other Party (Mum ) - works FT and has an income of $200k incl. super plus i think a 20-30% bonus

One child has been in private school since pre-k and is now just entering year 1 and we both signed enrollment for our other child to go from Kindy in 2022. My view was the kids should continue with the expected schooling. We don't have any major debts apart from small car loans which will be cleared soon. Rough calculations suggest that the other party would have $4k left per month and i would have $3k not taking into account the bonus, and we would look at a selective school (free!!) in year 6/7 or a scholarship. The other party is now saying she wouldn't be able to afford school fees and wants to remove the older child and not go ahead with the younger child. The older child is very anxious but also high performing so the changes to living arrangements will be impactful and i don't feel school changes are beneficial and required.

Regarding the split of cost - my first position is that each year we look at our tax returns and divide the following based on last years income or fall back to 50/50. Its also

What what I have read and the income levels it would be pretty clear cut.

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Scenario 2 - Co-parent time
My view of shared time is 2-2-2-2 nights for the 2yr and 5yr old. We both work full time but I do have more flexibility in my working day vs the other party. She is asking for a 2-1-2-2 but this would probably mean more changes and misalignment with the 5-year-old causing them to either separate or have less time with one parent. My initial consideration was 2-2-3-3 but considered 2-2-2-2 was a compromise but now the other party is just digging away for small wins. From the research, I completed a lot of the primary carer studies are based on a single child family with no siblings, before separation the child lived primarily with the primary carer and also no consideration for 2 FT working parents.

If anyone could shed light on these two scenarios and what would the likely outcome be as I feel I am being reasonable and fair in my requests.
 

sammy01

Well-Known Member
27 September 2015
4,932
704
2,894
Ok, so all fun and games here.
You have two options with school.
Child support Agency have rules
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
So you could dig your heals in. The fact that mum has signed application fees is grounds to show that there is an affirmative answer to the csa question

Is the child being cared for, educated or trained in a manner expected by his or her parents?​

Sorry copy and paste of their site....

OR. Make this a bargianing chip. Ok, so I'm a public school teacher in NSW. I teach high school. Public schools rock. Here is some light reading for you
Public schools beat private rivals in HSC comparison
Ok sure that article was 6 yrs ago and it is from NSW but it was a 30 second google search to find it.

And... It will become a s**t fight. Sure CSA might make an adjustment to child support because of private school fees. But the ex makes more than you and is whinging about not being able to afford? WTF? So scenario. CSA agree to increase child support as per the rules outlined in the link. They'll make an adjustment but it is likely that it wont cover all the costs. You can bet it wont include consideration of uniforms, excursions, books, books books, laptops. 'voluntary donations' that dont seem very voluntary. So for the next 16 years until the youngest turns 18 you're gonna have a fight over every additional expense that private schools incur. Sounds like fun... You're gonna wind up forking out $$$ while the ex (who makes more than you) cries poor.

So let's get back to the bargianing chip. You concede on private schools because like I've shown you, I really don't think they're good value for money. So you 'reluctantly' concede in return for getting your preferred parenting model for the next 2-3 years.
Mate by the time you're youngest turns 5 you want 7-7 rotation. Are you raising kids or travelling salesman that sleep in different beds every other night? And - most blokes on a site like this are just fighting to get to see their kids or to get more than 2-3 nights a fortnight AND frankly, if she wanted to fight this in court you would not get 50/50.

TBH - I'd agree to public schools and her preferred parenting arrangement IF it meant 50/50. The only modification I'd suggest is a 7-7 rotation from the time the youngest is 5. OR spend somewhere between $50 000 and a couple of hundred $$$ and as a result your solicitor will be able to send their kids to that nice private school that you like so much.

Now step away from the keyboard.... Sure, you don't like what I've written but it is good advice, so go for a walk and calm down before smashing out a response... You asked for advice. You got it...
cheers
 

Rosscoe

Well-Known Member
21 October 2020
65
2
199
Hey @cubanpete - I have to say I agree with a lot of what Sammy has written here. Think about what it is that you're actually fighting for? Is it to just be in the fight or get to the best solution as quick as possible with as little conflict as possible (I would encourage the latter). There is no harm in conceding to the schooling I believe.

I would very careful of getting into long standing disagreement on the parenting matters though, especially if the OP is deemed to be the primary carer. If it is one night a fortnight you are haggling with, take it and run! If this ends up in court, decisions on 2 year olds are often made focusing on primary carer relationship and they are quite conservative. The fact that you both worked FT doesn't mean the children won't have a primary carer and if the OP wants to dig in her heels with regards to the parenting time I would say she has some grounds, especially regarding your 2 year old. Some people on this site don't get an overnight with their child post separation until the child is 3 or 4 years old. There is also some literature supporting this that is used in courts.
 

Keeks

Well-Known Member
28 February 2019
27
2
124
Completely agree with @sammy01 here - these are wise words from someone who has both experience being on the end of family law matters, and as an educator.

Specifically on the private school fees issue: we've just been through our own private Vs public school experience and who should pay. Private secondary school was 100% pushed by parent A against parent B's wishes for the three children of the relationship. There was no agreement on secondary schooling while the couple were together, so the costs weren't a simple 50/50 split. Parent A said they would pay all the fees if other parent agreed to school choice, parent B agreed and the school only has parent A listed for fees payment. Kid starts school, cue CSA change of assessment request from parent A to try and recoup half the fees through child support. No evidence of prior agreement for private school between parents so the application failed - but it was a very stressful time and I have a feeling the CSA ruling could have gone either way depending on who decided our case. Avoid this at all costs.

Then came the lawyers, family court and 18 months (and from what I hear that's actually a super short timeframe) of negotiation/teeth-gnashing. Consent orders were written up that detailed the private school for the three children, along with a notation that parent A is responsible for 100% of fees. Fast-forward another year, and the second and third child are getting ready to enter secondary school. Not having been able to wrangle a 50% payment commitment from parent B since the orders were signed, parent A says they can't afford the fees and wants to move all three children into the public system which they can't do without parent B's agreement to change the consent orders. End result - one kid stays in private to finish their schooling, the younger two will start and finish in public: a very good compromise for the parents, and above all, three decisions that are in the best interests of the individual children.

My advice - get stuff formalised (parenting plan, or even better, consent orders) but be flexible if the situation changes and always make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. Even if the split is relatively amicable right now, it pays to have some formal structure around the care of the kids that's bigger than you and your ex. Same with CSA payments (it wasn't clear if you've just got a private agreement about how much money changes hands). Definitely recommend getting it formally assessed by the CSA team once you've sorted out the care percentage.

And finally - parents A and B have been co-parenting for 8 years now, and I can finally say that things do slowly improve when you get more co-parenting experience under your belt. No-one knows how to parent with an ex when you just break up - it's a totally foreign thing to manage. The emotions and arguments that come up after the split can be completely from left-field (and constantly change when you or the other parent find a new partner/move house/change jobs etc). Good luck. Make sure you come back to this forum and read up on other threads that are similar to your journey. It will definitely help - the site has been a life-saver for me!