Family & Matrimonial | Financial Provisions for Children
Raising a child can be expensive, especially for separated parents. The starting point for most separated families is almost always how much child maintenance should the absent parent be paying? In many cases, this can be resolved quite quickly. An informal agreement can be reached between the parents or otherwise either party can approach the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to ask for a maintenance assessment. Further information and a calculator of how much child maintenance should be paid can be found here.
The CMS can only require a party to pay child maintenance, and even then, the amount of maintenance it can direct a party to pay is limited. It cannot order the provision of a capital lump sum for the child, the payment of child’s school fees or the provision of a property for the benefit of a child.
Many of these issues are dealt with within divorce proceedings, as the court’s main concern when dividing the parties’ finances is the child. If there are no divorce proceedings or if insufficient provision was made for the child within divorce proceedings, it is worth considering initiating court proceedings known as Schedule 1 Proceedings. These allow the court to order capital provision for the benefit of the child and to top up the child maintenance if the payer’s income is above the CMS threshold.
Certain orders will be of additional benefit for the person with whom the child is living, for example, the provision of housing for the child will inevitably benefit the person living with the child, but it is always worth remembering that the purpose is to provide for a child. Therefore, when the child turns 18, the property may return back to the providing person.
The court, when exercising its powers, has regard to the income, earning capacity, property and financial resources which each party has, together with the obligations and responsibilities. Furthermore it looks at the financial needs and lifestyle of the child.
Schedule 1 proceedings can be a relatively complicated procedure, and so anyone contemplating such proceedings should obtain specific advice about the merits and how best to present the case.