Divorced but now facing school fee issues....

(71 Posts)
discolegs Sun 31-Jan-16 11:39:54

Dear all, hoping someone might be able to help/advise on this seemingly complicated issue I am currently facing. I'll try to be as brief as possible! My pound sign on my keyboard is not working so apologies for just figures!

I divorced my ex husband last April 2015 - all very amicably and we have remained very friendly. We have two amazing children, age 8 & 7, who we share 50/50 therefore I am not paid any maintenance. Due to my ex's career as a school teacher within the private sector, he receives a sizeable discount on the children's education. When we split up both children were at private prep school, I was working part time (to enable dropping off and picking up of children from school) and earning 15k whilst he was earning 45k. In July 2014, he agreed to pay for the school fees for the winter and spring term 2014/15 but I would have to pick up the fees for the summer term of 2015 which I did, 1500 a term. Moving forward to last year, my ex applied for and got a new job as he was miserable in his last position and was offered a position in a different county working at one of the top private senior schools in the country. My now partner and I made the decision that we would relocate to allow the 50/50 access for the children to continue. This was at great cost I must mention as we had to move to one of the most expensive counties in the country.

When my ex-husband was offered the new job in May 2014, whilst discussing the implications of the move, on all of us, he stated that he felt it would be outrageous if I didn't go back to work full time once we'd moved. However, I was very worried/concerned that as a mother my first concern was the children would need me whilst they started their new schools and settled in etc and I didn't want a stranger having to pick them up. My ex stated he thought I was being ridiculous and that children were very resilient - they would be fine. One thing I am not is work shy so as soon as we had relocated I duly landed a full time job that would start early september but due to the nature of the job (my career is estate agency) I would have to work every other saturday. To cut a long story short, two weeks before I was due to start, my ex virtually demanded I turn down the job to enable me to be there for the children and to make sure I could to do picks ups etc as his timetable was going to be so demanding. He also felt that my job would be unfair on him as in holiday time he would not get any off time and every other saturday would need to be catered for. So I turned it down. At this point my ex stated that as a trade off he was prepared to pay all of my son's school fees for that year roughly 5000k. My partner and I struggled for the next couple of months financially as we had budgeted for me to be working. I must add that my ex and I share all the costs for the children 50/50 (apart from the fees at this stage) and my ex was not interested in the fact that I was finding money tight in September/october, he said that wasn't his problem. Things got desperate in October (partner had been put on 31 days notice for redundancy) so I managed to get a job, full time, paying 22k but with no saturdays. I also now have to pay 250 per month on childcare so that my daughter can be picked up from her school at 3pm. My ex does not contribute to this.

We are now 2016 and my daughter is set to join her brother at the prep school this september. My ex has stipulated that I am to pay her school fees which are 5000k a year - roughly 450 per month whilst he pays for my sons. Here is where I am floundering. I would love nothing more than to pay her fees however, I am getting constant shocked responses from friends and loved ones who are saying surely the payment of fees should be worked commensurate with my ex and my salaries? As I say, i take home 22k and my ex is roughly 45-48k. He doesn't pay rent as his employers gives him accommodation. I have not made any claim on his money before or after our divorce nor his pension. I also pay him 50 per month for my part of the divorce as he paid for outright for it to be done online...

My ex's argument is because I live with my partner (who has 3 teenage dependants and an expensive divorce in progress) I am in a better financial situation however this is not the case. The rent we have to pay due to relocating to accommodate my ex's career is very expensive as are the bills that come with it. We managed to secure the smallest/cheapest property we could but the rent is still madness. At the end of the month when all bills etc are paid we have 1000 to live off. Take 450 out for my daughters school fees etc and I am fearing we will go under. The obvious solution to many and one which I am sure a judge would say is take the children out of private education however partly the reason my ex changed career to become a teacher was to enable us to educate them privately due to the discount....

I would be so appreciative of any unbiased opinions. As I say, my ex and I, are at the moment very friendly but I fear a lot of that has to do with the fact that I always bend over backwards to accommodate his situation. If I ever disagree with him or challenge his views the relationship quickly changes. I also fear that if we fall out over this, the children will suffer however, on the other hand I do not want to be taken for a mug. I desperately want to pay what i can but I'm frightened of going bankrupt sad I cannot afford a solicitor at the moment so totally unsure where I stand. I hope I have covered everything, my apologies for the essay!!!

Lemonski Sun 31-Jan-16 13:56:30

No real advice but wow. Your ex seems to have everything going his way from what I understand.

Its about time he had a wake up call.

I dont think in your situation you have much to loose with consulting a solicitor to see what they would say on the matter. They may indicate whether it would be worth you or realistic pressing for more of a contribution from him.

RandomMess Sun 31-Jan-16 14:04:12

TBH I think you need to find a job that suits you!

Your ex has bullied you into doing what suits him. You to start thinking much longer term. Are you going to spend the next 10 years moving around the country after your ex as he pursues his career to the detriment of yours and your family life and building a home with your current partner?

If you can't afford 50% of the fees you need to tell your ex that you won't be paying towards the anymore and accept that your dc may not be able to attend private school.

AgentProvocateur Sun 31-Jan-16 14:04:58

I feel for you, but on the other hand if you have the DC 50:50 and share costs, you paying one set of fees and your ex paying the other seems fair. Your current partner's financial commitments are irrelevant.

I don't think there's an easy answer, other than the obvious one of taking them out of private education. Have you looked at state schools where you are? You might be pleasantly surprised.

SavoyCabbage Sun 31-Jan-16 14:27:15

You are dancing to the beat of your exs drum far too much. Not taking the job because he said so was daft. You should have found childcare for the every other Saturday that you would have to work. He's not in charge of what job you have.

I don't see why you had to move to facilitate his career after you split up. Is the reason not that you wouldn't have been getting the discount in the school that your doc were at once your dh left so you moved so that your dc could still go to a private school?

MuttonCadet Sun 31-Jan-16 14:38:27

Go through the CSA, it doesn't matter if you do have 50/50 care, you should be getting maintenance if you are the recipient of child benefit.

However, you can't force him to pay school fees, it may be that you are in a situation that you simply cannot afford private education for your children.

wickedwaterwitch Sun 31-Jan-16 14:42:29

Get a good solicitor
It does sound unfair
Good luck

NewLife4Me Sun 31-Jan-16 14:53:47

He is taking the piss, but I'm sorry you are allowing this.
Stop listening to him, he is your ex now and it's up to him to sort out his access to the children.
Move back to the area you came from, and let him rot.
I do agree with others though that unfortunately you can't force him to pay fees.
I would just tell him how unfair it is that one gets to go private and the other doesn't as you can't afford it.
Get a good solicitor and make sure you receive what you are entitled to.

BertrandRussell Sun 31-Jan-16 14:58:57

Is is possible to pay two lots of school fees on a combined salary of 65k? Genuine question- it doesn't sound much to me. And fees will carry on rising as they get older.

IguanaTail Sun 31-Jan-16 15:00:07

I think you need to state that you cannot afford your daughter to go private because of the increase in rent and the fact you are paying off the move and also your salary is low. Say that you are happy to pay half for your son or that they both need to go to state schools and perhaps the extra left over could go towards tutoring. Ask him what would be his preference and put the ball in his court. He does seem to be wanting to have his cake and eat it.

discolegs Sun 31-Jan-16 15:36:06

Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply. Your input has been genuinely helpful.

Regarding going to the CSA - they are not interested in the subject of school fees and they have stated I am categorically not entitled to any maintenance. I do not receive child benefit either due to my partner being over the threshold. My ex claims this now...

I fear the only way forward is to speak to a solicitor tomorrow and see if I can grab a free half hour to discuss.

Once again thank you for your responses, I'm very grateful smile

TheTigerIsOut Sun 31-Jan-16 15:51:34

My advice:

- stop pandering to your ex's needs. You have gone way beyond the call of duty by relocating so contact can continue.

- I understand that you want to keep the girls in private school, but can you afford to keep them there considering fees go up considerably when they move into secondary school? Can you cover the fees on your own? If not, you have to accept that the girls will need to move to the state sector sooner or later.

TBH, considering your 50% contact agreement, you won't be able to force him to pay more than the 10% of his net salary in child maintenance even if you take him to court. 45k +your 20k) is hardly enough to pay private school fees for 2 kids and keep two households.

The fact that you have a partner doesn't change anything as he is not financially responsible for your DDs.

The court won't force him to cover part of the private school fees in a 45k salary. He cannot force you not to take Saturday work in your days of contact either.

In all honestly, I think you need to stop paying private school fees. The current circumstances put it beyond your reach. Sorry.

discolegs Sun 31-Jan-16 16:02:53

Just a final note, having re-read everyone's answers..

Just be clear, I haven't forced or will not be forcing my ex to pay the school fees. That is not and hasn't been my intention. If he didn't work in education, without fail, both children would be a state school. My daughter is currently at our local primary school and I have no issues with this at all.

However, as my ex continues to insist they are privately educated, I am happy to pay what I can afford, commensurate with both of our salaries. Sadly though it is of his belief that irrespective of me earning half of what he does I should still pay the same as him. That's where I'm being constantly told by friends family etc that it is wrong I pay half as I am on less money than him...

Will see if the solicitors can be of any help.

BertrandRussell Sun 31-Jan-16 16:15:01

Oh well, if it's just him that wNts private school, just tell him if he wants it, he pays for it. Sorted.

discolegs Sun 31-Jan-16 16:18:57

Thetigerisout - you speak a lot of sense. Thank you for your comments. There's a common theme here, I basically need to stand up to Ex!!

Just to reiterate, I have absolutely no intention to take ex to court for maintenance - we established when we initially split, there is none to be claimed.

I totally agree regarding situation with my partner. However my ex refuses to see it this way and believes I have more disposable income due to my partners salary (sadly not true) and this should be taken into consideration. I have tried to explain to Ex till I'm blue in the face - that this is irrelevant. In the same way I have no financial responsibility to my partners children. Ex still does not understand and won't take this on board.

What I am trying to establish is should we continue with educating children privately, how or even whether the fees should be shared by half, or by 60:40 or 70:30, taking into account he earns 22k more than me plus lives rent free.

smile

discolegs Sun 31-Jan-16 16:21:29

BertrandRussell - lol, I will try that tact... I reckon the space station will see his reaction...

Lightbulbon Sun 31-Jan-16 16:31:53

Are you really doing 50/50 or is that just his way of getting out of child maintenance?

Did you have your own solicitor for the divorce?
What did they advise-because you don't seem to have got a good deal!

ClashCityRocker Sun 31-Jan-16 16:32:36

The thing is, (and I do agree with what you are saying) if he refuses to pay more than half, there isn't a lot you can do other than take the children out of private school, I don't think.

So you being morally in the right is somewhat academic if he won't budge.

I do think it's shitty of him when you seem to have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep him happy.

I also do think you need to have a think about whether keeping the two of them in a private school is sustainable - I may have misunderstood, but what if he moves school again so you lose the discount? Would the children need to move schools and perhaps areas? What about senior school, where fees and extras go up massively?

SavoyCabbage Sun 31-Jan-16 16:33:50

In that case you are taking too much notice of what he wants again. You are fine with them not going to private school so he can react how he wants about it. That's up to him. He's allowed that opinion but it doesn't mean that they have to go to a private school because he thinks it's important.

The top and bottom of it is, you can't afford it. And people who can't afford things can't have them.

discolegs Sun 31-Jan-16 16:41:16

Lightbulbon - we genuinely seem to be yes, we work on a 3day 4day rota alternatively and so far it has worked fairly. He does get to take them abroad on holidays as I can't afford it so the only difference is he gets them sometimes for 7days straight.... This half term for example I asked for them all week as I can't have time off over the easter hols and he is taking them away for a week. Its now transpired I cannot take them away so he has asked for them to be shared as usual. I suppose that's fair.

I didn't have my own solicitor as I couldn't afford it so he went ahead and used an online one. I did show my paperwork to my partner's solicitor and she said I had been royally done as I can never make any claim in the future to his money or pension should I or one of the children (god forbid) fall ill for example. For the record I am not a money grabber and I work hard to provide for my children so not being able to claim his money doesnt bother me however, I am sure I am being naive.

The other thing my partner is angry about is I have to go to my ex's house every morning when he has the children to enable him to go to work at 8am. I then sit with my daughter till I take her to school at 8.45. The more I write, the more I realise what I do to make his life more comfortable!!!

caroldecker Sun 31-Jan-16 16:47:13

Could he claim CB - would not solve the whole issue, but is something

discolegs Sun 31-Jan-16 16:52:44

Savoy cabbage. I know, I hear totally what you are saying. I think I am genuinely nervous of him and he knows it. He knows I will always do everything to keep the peace and to keep him/the children happy. Basically happy ex husband/happy household, that's why I left as he was so selfish and self absorbed.

I also know, if I was to say that's it, I can't afford it, there'll be the backlash of 'surely I want what is best of the children'. How can I deny them an education like this? etc... I've already had this conversation with him and the guilt he can put me through is ridiculous. He even said, did I want the children not respecting me for not doing what is best for them when they look back... It goes without saying that naturally if I can help them have the best opportunities of course I will but I can't do it if its going to financially ruin me/my partner.

Again, it will come back to the fact that ex is insistent my partner and I can afford it so I am bashing my head against a brick wall...

The trouble is we were both privately educated (my grandparents paid for me) and my ex was brought up by his stepfather who was a senior school private headmaster so that's why he feels the importance of a private education. I get it but If its not doable its not doable.

I guess I hoped there might be some middle ground but its not looking that way. I'm sorry, this must be getting boring now, its pretty black and white smile Thank you again for taking the time to comment....

Fourormore Sun 31-Jan-16 16:56:14

You're right, under the CMS, no maintenance is due when there is a 50/50 arrangement.

I would be tempted to provide him with a copy of your households finances to prove your point - or your finances with your share of your households bills.

Your ex can't force your partner to pay your share of the school fees - he will have to choose whether to soak up the cost himself or take the children out of private school.

Also, childcare - I hope you're only paying for your daughters childcare on the days she spends with you.

MadisonMontgomery Sun 31-Jan-16 16:56:57

What do you think he would do if you just said that you can't afford the fees and stopped paying? It isn't as though he can force you - so if you genuinely aren't bothered about them attending state school I would do that - then he has to make the decision whether to pay more or go state.

Fourormore Sun 31-Jan-16 17:00:01

I wouldn't be helping him out anymore and I would immediately end any conversation where he uses guilt to manipulate you into doing what he thinks is best.

The reality is you can't afford it so there has to be a different solution and he isn't going to like either of them. You don't have to have a solution that pleases him, you have to have one that works.

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