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Posted on March 29, 2023

Refresher : Family Court Orders & Enrolments

A Family Court Order (Order) is a document that is frequently provided to your finance team with a direction from enrolling parties that the School abide the terms related to all education related matters. This may involve, amongst many other things, restricting access to information or financial responsibility.

As this is often a sensitive and emotional time for families, it is, at times, difficult to not become involved and provide assistance.

Recently, we have noticed an increase in the reliance by families for School’s to abide the Orders. This is consequently resulting in more queries to us about the applicability and enforceability against the School itself to comply with the Order.

Does the School need to comply with Orders related to financial responsibility? The short answer is no. The reason for this is because unless the School is specifically named as a party in the proceedings (which is highly unlikely), then you are not bound. What follows is that your enrolment application, which is the contractual arrangement between you and the enrolling parties is what applies and must be the starting point for any conversations about the education of the children.

Often families will attempt to vary fee arrangements by reference to the Orders, but this can complicate billing and more importantly, recovery. The main underlying reason for this added complication is that families often have separate child support or other financial arrangements which rely heavily on funds being directed to certain expenses (like school fees). This often doesn’t occur, resulting in outstanding fees and difficult conversations with families. As a rule of thumb, School’s should not readily split accounts, unless there are compelling reasons to do so. Enrolling parties, may of course, pay separately, but ultimately, both should be liable for all fees until fully paid.

How about Orders related to other education related matters, such as access to student information? The answer to this question is not as straightforward. We firstly suggest that you openly communicate with all enrolling parties to understand their views and expectations. Once you have formed a view as to how the School is required to act, you should write to all parties (in either joint or separate correspondence) to confirm the position that will be adopted going forward. In more complicated situations, you may need to seek advice, and you are welcome to call us to discuss any matters.

If you or your team have any queries about enrolments, terms, collection processes and Court action, please give us a call on 1300 600 181.