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Meeting a Child's Financial Needs When Parents Separate

on Tuesday, 18 January 2022.

A relationship breakdown can put a real financial strain on a family. In some cases, parents will responsibly share the financial commitment of a child between themselves. However this is not always the case.

When the relationship between the parents is acrimonious, one parent may be left to financially support their child alone. For many, this can be very difficult.

What Can I Do if I Am Struggling to Support My Child?

If you are unable to reach an agreement about how your child's living costs are to be paid you can, in most circumstances, make an application to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). The payment of child maintenance (CM) by a non-resident parent is a statutory requirement. The level of payment is fixed and determined by the CMS. In making their calculation, the CMS consider the number of nights that a child stays with the non-resident parent, the non-resident parent's other financial commitments (eg payments for other children) and their income. CM is the most common avenue for seeking help with financially supporting your child.

Another option would be to make an application to the Court under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989.

Making an Application Under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989

All applicants are required to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) before making an application. The application is formally made to the court and a hearing will be listed in order to hear the details of the application. In preparation for the hearing, the parties are required to provide full financial details.

The applicant can apply for one or more of the following orders:

  • periodical payments (secured or unsecured)
  • lump sum
  • settlement of property
  • transfer of property

What Will the Court Consider When Looking at a Schedule 1 Application?

Schedule 1 is based purely on the child's needs and not, as a starting point, what is fair or equal. It is not the Court's duty to address any income disparity between the parents.

Amongst other things, a court will consider:

  • the financial resources available to both parents - this will be evident from the parties respective financial positions
  • other responsibilities that the parents may have eg other children
  • whether the child has any disabilities which could affect the level of financial support required
  • the financial requirements of the child
  • the original intentions of the parents in relation to how the child would be raised - this is particularly important when parents are claiming for financial support with private education

How Can We Help?

Navigating the legal process can be difficult. That is why it is important to have the advice of a specially trained lawyer who can guide and support you through the process. Our team of family lawyers are here to help.

If you would like any advice in respect of your child arrangements or financially supporting your child, please contact our New Enquiries team on 020 7405 1234, or complete the form below.

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