Financial Provision for Children
If you are separating or divorcing, how do you make sure your children are provided for?
If you are married, financial support for your children is usually dealt with in the divorce settlement. If you agree on child maintenance, you can include this agreement in a Consent Order in the divorce. If not, you will need to apply to the Child Maintenance Service.
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However, if you are not married and there are dependent children from the relationship, you might need to apply to Court for Financial Orders for the children under Schedule 1 of the Children Act.
The Court can make Orders for the payment of lump sums or the provision of a property for the benefit of your children. If one parent lives abroad or you have a child with a disability, the Court may also be able to make Child Maintenance Orders even if you cannot agree on child maintenance.
Often, if one unmarried parent makes a claim for the sale of the family home, the other parent will need to apply for financial provision for children under Schedule 1 of the Children Act to ensure that the children do not lose their home. Our expert lawyers can advise you on whether or not you might have such a claim and guide you through the process either to negotiate a settlement or through Court proceedings.
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Frequently asked questions
Child maintenance is paid towards the costs of bringing up children. Ideally, it's something that parents should agree between them. If they can't agree, they will need to go to the Child Maintenance Service because there are only a few cases where you can actually apply for a court order. If you're trying to agree child maintenance, it’s a good idea to do an estimate of what the Child Maintenance Service would calculate because that's a good start to working out an appropriate level of payments. The child maintenance calculation is based on the paying parents’ gross income so that's before tax and National Insurance are taken off. They will take off pension contributions and then there's a reduction depending on the number of overnight stays the children have with the paying parent averaged over the year. Child maintenance payments last until the children are between 16 and 20. That very much depends on when they actually finish their education and the type of education that they're doing. There are a few exceptions to helping to either agree child maintenance or go to the Child Maintenance Service. They are generally, if your child suffers from a disability and they are going to remain dependent on you, you might be entitled to child maintenance beyond the 16-20 year age cap. If the paying parent actually lives abroad and not in this country you will need a court order for child maintenance. And finally, the Child Maintenance Service sets a cap on the maximum maintenance payments that they'll make the payer pay. If the paying parent is a particularly high earner, it is possible to go to court and apply for an order to top up the Child Maintenance Services calculation of child maintenance.
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Jessica is an Associate Solicitor and has specialised in family law throughout her career