As the number of children being born to unmarried couple rises, family lawyers have seen an increase in enquiries from parents concerned about how they will meet the needs of their child on relationship breakdown. If child maintenance is not sufficient to meet the needs of the child, legal advice should be sought as to whether you can pursue a claim for additional financial support from the wealthier parent for the benefit of the child under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989.
The main priority for all parents will be to ensure that their child is suitably housed. Under Schedule 1, the Court can make an order for one parent to purchase or transfer a property to the resident parent which will revert back to the non-resident parent when the child turns 18 or finishes University. It is worth noting that claims under Schedule 1 are not just reserved for families with considerable assets but can also benefit families with more modest assets. For example, the court can order one parent to provide a housing fund with the resident parent making up any shortfall by raising a mortgage or using their own funds.
Is your former partner a high earner? If they earn more than £156,000 gross per annum or £3,000 per week gross and a maximum assessment has been carried out by the Child Maintenance Service, the resident parent can apply for top up maintenance under Schedule 1. The Court can make an order for periodical payments to be paid on a monthly basis to cover ongoing expenses such as school fees, nanny costs, or costs associated with a child’s disability.
Lump sum orders can be ordered for one off expenses such as the cost of a car to transport the child, furniture for the home or even a lump sum to pay off the resident parent’s debt. It is also possible for an adult child over 18 to bring a claim under Schedule 1 for periodical payments or lump sum orders if they are still in education or training or in special circumstances.
How does the Court decide what financial provision to make? The Court has a wide discretion in these cases and will consider factors such as the income and financial resources of both parents, the financial needs of the child, any physical or mental disability of the child and the manner in which the child was or was expected to be educated and the standard of living of the wealthier parent.
It is important to take legal advice on the merits of bringing a claim under Schedule 1 and to have a clear picture of your former partner’s financial position before embarking on an application. If you are separated from your partner and are concerned about how you will meet the needs of your child please contact a member of our family team.
*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.