There’s a lot to think about when applying for university or secondary education but don’t forget to consider ‘who pays?’
Where parents are separated it’s wise to revisit any Order made in respect of maintenance payments for the student. This document may be many years old and have worked well whilst the child has been at school, but suddenly if the student reaches the age of 17 and is thinking about university the question arises ‘do maintenance payments continue or not?’.
My advice has to be ‘ignore this issue at your peril’ as there is a deadline for applying to either extend the payment period or to vary the initial order or Order.
Many Orders for on-going maintenance payments contain the phrase ‘.. until the child reaches the age of 17’, others may say ‘… or until the child ceases full time education whichever is later.’ So it is clear immediately that the Order or order needs to be checked. However, if only it were that simple because what constitutes ‘full time education’?
As it stands the rules around how many hours tuition constitute ‘full time education’ are complex and I would advise asking this question of the university or college before submitting an application. Often if the tuition is less than 21 hours a week this will not constitute ‘full time’ and some training may not qualify at all. Budgeting in these times is hard enough without any unwelcome surprises!
However, all is not lost if application to extend or vary the Order is made before it expires although identification of this date is not always easy to identify. As a rule of thumb advice should be taken before the student reaches the age of 17 or ceases full time education whichever is the earlier.
If you have a child approaching the age of 17 and thinking about further education I encourage you to check your Order to establish the wording. If you have any doubt you will need to take some advice and I suggest taking up the option of a free initial meeting with a family law solicitor.
At JARVIS we are used to reviewing maintenance arrangements – if you are able to bring along a copy of your Order, the one meeting should be enough to establish your position.
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