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Date:15 MAY 2006

(Court of Appeal; Thorpe and Smith LJJ and Hedley J; 15 May 2006) [2006] FLR (forthcoming)

By a consent order the father was liable to pay the school fees for the two children. Following a decline in the father's income, the mother's periodical payments order was reduced to a nominal sum, but the father later claimed that his financial circumstances had declined so much that the boys should go into the state system. The judge ordered the father to pay a lump sum to cover past and future school fees for both children to the end of their senior schooling. Fresh evidence was available on appeal of the father's serious health issues, which might impact upon his future income.

The lump sum had the great attraction of finality, eliminating the risk of future litigation between the parents, but the finality should not endeavour to reach beyond the reasonably predictable. The judge's order for a lump sum was upheld in relation to the arrears for both children, and in relation to the entire future fees for the elder child and the future fees for the second child at his current school. The father remained under a liability to pay for the school fees for the second child at senior school, but would not be required to make lump sum payment in respect to those fees, and his liability must remain flexible and subject to review in the light of circumstances.