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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 23767
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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My partner’s ex-wife has enrolled both of their sons (aged 3

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My partner’s ex-wife has enrolled both of their sons (aged 3 & 6) in a fee-paying school, which my partner cannot afford to contribute towards. The eldest child has attended the school for 2 or 3 years, and the youngest will start in September. Their mother has paid all fees from the onset. At the final child arrangement hearing in January this year she declared that she can afford the costs on her own, which is why my partner agreed to her choice of school. She has now decided that she can’t afford it after all and that he should pay for half of everything. I am worried that she is going to try to somehow get him to contribute by any means possible and that she may try to include me in this by showing that our combined incomes are more than enough to pay for the school fees. He and I are co-habiting but are not married and do not have joint finances. I need to know whether I have reason to be worried and whether I should protect myself and my income. We are not dealing with a reasonable or rational woman – she has subjected us to a reign of terror since I met him almost 2 years ago, and is fully capable of trying something like this.
JA: What steps have been taken? Have any papers been filed in family court?
Customer: Not yet, this demand is a recent development.
JA: Family Court normally sits in a local County and Magistrates' Court. Do you know the location of the court? If not, what county does he live in?
Customer: I think it's Feltham - it's all been online recently.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: This is it at the moment

Hello. Thank you for the question. It is my pleasure to assist you with this today.

Please bear with me as I will be online and off-line from time to time and therefore, may be delayed getting back to you. You will receive an email when I reply.

Is the father paying child maintainance at the moment?

and the fee paying school was her wish entirely?

are they divorced yet?

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Hi, yes, they are divorced, and the school was her choice. He has always opposed her choice of school, and has made it clear. He has also made it clear that he cannot afford to pay for half of the school fees. He is paying maintenance, but they are on a schedule towards 50-50 custody, which will happen in February 2022, after which there will be no more maintenance.

You have no need to protect yourself or your income or your assets or your savings because they cannot be touched.  It wouldn’t matter even if you were married.

They can however be taken into account with regard to your partner’s ability to pay because, for example, if he is living in your house then he has no rent or mortgage.

In respect of the reign of terror, this is obviously harassment.

Harassment is defined as a course of action (more than once) which is intended to harass, does harass, is reckless as to whether it harasses, or if the average bystander would look at the conduct and think that it was indeed harassment.

Harassment is both a civil matter and a criminal matter.

If a person is being harassed, they can go to the police and ask them to warn the alleged culprit under the Protection from Harassment Act.  Some police forces take harassment very seriously and others not so and therefore, the person who is being allegedly harassed may need to speak to a senior officer or put a complaint in writing to the Chief Constable.

You can of course apply for a non-molestation order.

A person who believes that they are being bullied or who has been a victim of domestic violence or coercive controlling behaviour, can apply to court for a non-molestation order to prevent the other person coming within 100 m of them and an occupation order for the alleged perpetrator to move out of the house.

Here are the government webpages on exactly this subject.

A range of people can apply to the court: spouses, cohabitants and ex-cohabitants, people living in the same household (but not employees), tenants, lodgers, boarders, and certain relatives such as parents grandparents, in-laws, brothers sisters, and engaged couples.  So basically people who are in a close relationship either physically or family or living together whether that’s in a relationship or just the same house.

There doesn't actually have to be physical violence per se because there can be coercive behaviour for example as you will read in this excellent article: D

If living arrangements are involved, it is very often impractical to live in the same house and it would very often be allied to an occupation order which defines or regulates the rights of occupation of property by the parties involved.

Many landlords will not change the name of the tenancy agreement for example without a Occupation Order.

It always helps if a report was made to the police recently because that is good evidence that this actually happened.  The reason is that to report something to the police which hasn’t happened is a serious offence of wasting police time and/or attempting to pervert the course of justice which potentially carries a short jail sentence.  So the civil court will take more notice if it has been reported to the police.

Having said that, the civil court will normally err on the side of caution and grant the order.  However if the order is applied for based upon fabricated facts and that comes out in the wash, that is also perverting the course of justice and contempt of court and also potentially carries a jail sentence.

It is one of the few areas of law which legal aid is still available in certain circumstances so it is certainly worthwhile contacting the solicitor in the first instance.

As there is usually some urgency with these kind of applications, it can be done on an emergency basis and there is the facility on the form to do that.  An applicant can also attach a Certificate of Urgency (a letter with that heading) explaining why this should be in court on an emergency basis, usually within a day or so.

These applications are usually made “ex parte” which means that the other side doesn’t get notice.  What I mean by that is that they are not told “if you do this again we will make an application to court”.

The first they know about it is when the applicant gets the order and they are given the order.

The effect of the order is exactly the same as a restraining order to restraining order is something applied for by the police/CPS through the magistrates court (or exceptionally the Crown Court) whereas a non-molestation order is through the family/civil court.

Section 1 of the Domestic Violence, Crime & Victims Act 2004 May the breach of a non-molestation order a criminal offence.  It’s serious stuff.

Thank you for letting me assist you with your legal question.  I am glad that I was able to help.

I am not certain whether that answers the question for you or not, but I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

It will be my pleasure to help you again either further with this or any future questions you have

Kind regards

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** needed to know that she couldn't get me to directly or indirectly contribute towards her children's education. There is nothing that can be done about her harassment and abuse, as she has preemptively accused my partner of everything that she, herself, is guilty of, and we have been told that trying to make a case against her would be seen as tit for tat retaliation that the court would not look favourably on. It seems we just have to put up with it.

She cannot get you to directly or indirectly contribute towards her children’s education.  Not even if you were married.

The pre-emptive accusation is a very common tactic and it does tend to be the person that makes the complaint first that is the one who gets listened to.

Keep a diary of everything that she does says et cetera et cetera and then use that against her but make sure that in the interim you are squeakyclean.

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