Parents are reminded that when an agreement is made on separation or divorce for school fees to be paid by a parent, the Child Support Agency (CSA) will not necessarily take this into account when calculating the child support liability payable.
Whilst the CSA’s guidance on this issue, contained in ‘Child Support Guide Volume 7’, is unclear, it clearly does give the CSA discretion in the matter.
The CSA is required to use its discretion depending on the circumstances of the case. Clearly, if the parent with care (PWC) of the children was not on benefits and agreed to the offset, it would be accepted. However, if the PWC did not agree the offset, it is open for the CSA to rule as it sees fit.
In a recent case, the CSA sought a liability order to force a husband to pay the alleged shortfall in maintenance which resulted from his paying school fees and reducing his payments of maintenance accordingly.
He went to court to oppose the order and showed that the CSA had effectively denied him the opportunity to make his case that the school fees payments were made in lieu of child support. It was clear from contemporaneous correspondence that the CSA had not understood the extent of its discretion and had not carried out a proper review of all the relevant circumstances.
A judicial review of the decision was therefore agreed to allow the father to make his case.
We can assist you in all negotiations regarding family breakdown.