Financial Provision For Children
Divorcing or separating from a partner can become more complicated when parties cannot agree on the financial arrangements in respect of their children.
Whilst any financial settlement in the divorce process will consider the needs of the parties and the needs of any children, unmarried couples cannot pursue a financial order under this route. There are a number of other ways in which the law ensures that both parents are responsible for the financial support of their children in these cases.
Child Maintenance Service
The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is the statutory body with the primary responsibility for the assessment and enforcement of child maintenance. Child maintenance can be applied for via the government’s website without the involvement of the courts and the amount due will be based upon both parties’ incomes and the time in which they care for the children.
For more information, please visit the following link or contact us in order to speak with one of our specialist team: https://www.gov.uk/child-maintenance-service
However, there may be circumstances in which the CMS may not have jurisdiction or is not suitable in order to resolve matters fully.
The court’s powers
The Children’s Act 1989 does give the court the power to make financial awards in respect of children. However, the court only has limited powers to make child maintenance orders as it is expected that the CMS will be used in the first instance. In order for the courts to be able to make an order, the following must apply: –
- The CMS does not have jurisdiction (situations may include where the child or parent is resident outside the UK or the child is a stepchild);
- The parties agree a child maintenance order by consent;
- The order is of a prescribed type including: orders for educational expenses; orders for costs attributable to a disability; top-up orders; and orders against a person with care (PWC).
If you are unsure what your rights are in respect of child maintenance, our family team at Kew Law would be happy to discuss the same with you to ensure that you receive what you are entitled to.
What orders might I be entitled to?
If the court has jurisdiction to make an order, a judge can apply the following: –
1. Periodical payments
These are regular payments, which can be paid weekly or monthly and can be made directly to the child or to a parent to be used for the benefit of the child. However, these will rarely exceed what has been calculated under the CMS.
2. Lump sums
Lump sums can be ordered for a number of reasons such as: necessary improvements to a home; in order to purchase a car; or even to pay down the primary carer’s debt.
3. Transfers of property
4. Top up Orders
This is only available where the respondent’s weekly income exceeds £3,000.00 per week and so relates more specifically to higher net worth individuals.
Going to court or making an application to the court can feel like a daunting experience for many people which is why our team of specialist family lawyers can assist with the process to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Prior to applying to the court for financial provision for children, there is a mediation requirement to ensure that parties have explored resolving matters out of court first. If you are exempt from mediation or have satisfied the requirement, you will need to make your application on Form A1.
Once you have made your application, the court will list the matter and give directions ahead of the First Directions Appointment (FDA).
How can we help?
If you would like more information regarding anything discussed in this blog please contact a member of our family law team.
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