How can I engage with my spouse about school fees?

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Dear Sheila

My wife is refusing to engage with me on important matters that affect our children. We are in the process of divorcing and things are not at all amicable between us. Our children are 8 and 9 and it won’t be long before they are both ready to go to secondary school and my wife is refusing to discuss this. All she has said is that she wants them to go to the same fee-paying school that her and her family went to. I cannot afford these fees, but I know she can. It is a brilliant school and I have no issue with the children going there, but I don’t want to be liable for any of the tuition fees. Without her financial contribution, I will need to send the children to the nearest free school. It would be a real shame if the children were to lose the chance to go to such a good school because their mother wouldn’t engage with me about this at all. What should I do?


Sandy, Winchester

Dear Sandy

Thank you for your letter. You say that you are in the process of divorcing and that your wife is not comfortable discussing options for their secondary education. Whilst you are going through this difficult time it is probably best not to discuss too much without the help of a mediator, or an independent third party. I imagine that both of your emotions are running high and it is a tall order to expect a rational conversation from either of you!

It would be far better to ask her (when you are in a safe, calm place with a third party to assist) how she sees the children’s education panning out, what that looks like and how it would work. You say that you have no issue with them going to private school but are worried that she might be looking for a contribution from you. You mention that you cannot afford the fees. One option would be to say to your wife that if you won the lottery or had an income equivalent to hers, you might be able to make a contribution. However, remember that you do not have to say this if you do not feel comfortable doing so.

I do know that it is terribly disruptive for children to be taken out of school due to the non-payment of fees. If this does happen, I expect your children will work out the reason and you run the risk of bitterness and resentment creeping into your family dynamics.



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