Family Lore Clinic: Is university full-time education?
Many financial orders on divorce use the term 'full-time education', usually to express a cut-off date ("until the youngest child shall cease full-time education"), either to indicate the duration of maintenance payments, or the date upon which the former matrimonial home should be sold. Sometimes the order is a little clearer, by stating whether it is full-time secondary or tertiary education that is intended.
Assuming that the order does not specify secondary education, the simple answer is that university would normally be considered full-time education. Of course, there may be university courses that are part-time, but an undergraduate course would usually be full-time.
As far as I am aware, 'full-time education' is not defined in a family law context, but HM Revenue and Customs does have a definition, which it uses for the purposes of child benefit and tax credits, and which a family court is likely to follow, if there were a dispute. The definition says that: Full-time education is education undertaken in pursuit of a course, where an average of more than 12 hours per week is spent during term time:
- receiving tuition;
- engaging in practical work;
- receiving supervised study; or
- taking examinations.
Obviously, most university courses would fit within this definition.
(As usual, if you require more details or specific advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.)