Teens Suing Estranged Dads for Uni Fees


Teenagers preparing for university have begun suing absent dads for the cost of rising tuition fees, according to a family lawyer.

Dads are being sued for tuition fees

Historically a vehicle for parents to lay claim to their rich but former spouse’s assets, Schedule 1 applications have become increasingly popular amongst the middle classes.

The limitations on child maintenance orders means primary carers of teenage children are having to find alternative ways of meeting the cost of sending them to university.

James Skinner is a family lawyer at Simpson Millar who says he is seeing fathers especially ‘white with shock’ when they get summoned to court by their teenage kids.

"Some single parents really struggle to support their teenagers financially through education once the child benefit stops. They are now increasingly making Schedule 1 applications against their former spouse. It is a tool that enables the court to order a parent to make either periodical payments or a lump sum payment for children who are in full time education, even when they have reached the age of 18. These have become known as ‘sue dad cases’ and they are on the rise.

"Dads especially seem to believe they are in the clear once their children hit 18; but they need to think again. In the eyes of the court, the financial responsibility of parents does not end there. A parent might even be expected to compromise on meeting their own needs if that enables them to pay towards the necessities of their children – including education."

James says Schedule 1 applications are typically made by mothers on a limited income, but they can also be made by children who are over the age of 18.

"Fathers who can afford it yet won’t help pay to put their children through university tend not to get much sympathy in front of the bench. In my experience, the courts are more often than not ruling in favour of the children or the parent responsible for them – often the mother.

"Many of the fathers I see in these cases are white with shock at the realisation that they have to stump up four or five figure sums to pay for tuition. They may have re-married, and may not even have had regular contact with their children from the first marriage. But that does not remove their financial obligations."

James says parents who are divorcing and who may have children doing their GCSEs right now should agree who will meet the cost of further education.

"Reaching an agreement about who is going to pay tuition fees at the point of divorce saves everyone the unpalatable prospect of being taken to court by their children."

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