Sheriff orders children to move from private to state school as parent’s divorce leaves them unable to pay fees

A sheriff ordered two children to move from private to state school because their parent’s divorce left them unable to afford the fees.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 7:00 am

The couple were married in Scotland in 2003 but the woman started an affair from the beginning of her marriage. She told her husband about it when she left him in April 2018 to go and live with her lover.

Following the marital breakdown, the father struggled to pay for the children’s education and the woman does not earn enough to cover the costs.

Sheriff Alison Stirling’s written judgement, published this week but dated from October 15, stated the total school fees for both children in the academic year 2020/21 were £48,710. This was set to rise with inflation to reach £71,103 in 2023/24.

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A sheriff ordered two children to move from private to state school because their parent’s divorce left them unable to afford the fees.

Divorce proceedings at Edinburgh Sheriff Court resulted in legal fees of £200,000, with school fees being at the centre of disputes during the hearings.

Sheriff Stirling said the parents “did not have the resources” to keep sending their children to the private school given their net predicted incomes and expenditures. The court heard that the couple had total shared assets of more than £1.2 million but debts of nearly £454,000.

The sheriff ruled that moving both children from private to state school was the “best option for them in the circumstances,” despite both of them wanting to stay at the private school.

She said it was in the children’s best interest to start school immediately after the academic break in October 2020 to prevent their studies being further disrupted by more rows between their parents.

In the document, in which neither parents or children are named, sheriff Stirling said: “It will allow the children to have certainty.

“Although the children are likely to be distressed and to find it daunting, the move to State School 1 will put an end to the uncertainty they have had over the last year and which has been causing Emily (not her real name) in particular some anxiety.”

The sheriff also said fees are unpaid and that there are concerns over how long the private school would tolerate this.

Sheriff Stirling added: "I know that this is not what the children want, but moving to State School 1 now is the best option left for them in the circumstances. Standing the lack of agreement between the parties, specific issue orders are required."

The application for divorce was granted.

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