Financial Support For Children
This can be a complicated area and usually centres on the specific facts of the case. The extent of financial support for children and who is responsible for providing it can depend on whether a couple has been married and, if not, the relative financial circumstances of the parents.
Child Maintenance – The CMS and Schedule 1
If parents are unable to agree the level of child maintenance (ongoing payments from one parent to another for the benefit of a child) and both parties are based in England and Wales, the first port of call is through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) – a government body that assesses one parent’s financial means and can make a mandatory requirement that he or she pays child maintenance to the other. There is a set formula used taking into account the following:
- How many children maintenance is being paid for;
- Whether any other children live with the paying parent and if so, how many;
- How many nights the child(ren) spends with the paying parent;
- The amount the paying parent earns;
- In certain circumstances, the capital assets available to the paying parent.
In some cases this can be supplemented by a claim under Schedule 1 of the Children Act for a ‘top-up’ maintenance order. This can be used regardless of whether the parents have been married, where financial support is required for a child and a CMS assessment is either not possible or a maximum assessment has been made by the CMS.
Lump Sums, Property and More
Perhaps in part due to media coverage of celebrities who have had children when not married, Schedule 1 claims are commonly thought of as being applicable only in cases involving very wealthy people. In fact, this is not the case and this option can be a useful tool to provide financial support to unmarried parents who really need it.
Schedule 1 of the Children Act enables the court to require a parent to provide a range of financial support. This can include payment of a lump sum of cash, providing a property until the child reaches a certain age, child maintenance and sometimes the funding of other costs for the benefit of the child, including school fees, the provision of a car, etc.
Hall Brown are very experienced in such applications, from a lower value level through to very high profile cases involving sports stars and celebrities.