"I need help with financial arrangements for my children after we separate"
Every parent is financially responsible for their child. If you are not married, you cannot claim maintenance from your ex for your own needs, but you can make financial claims on behalf of your child or children. A non-resident parent (meaning a parent who spends less than half of the time with their child) is obliged to pay for the care and upkeep of their child by way of maintenance payments to the parent with day to day care.
The main financial remedies can usually be found in maintenance through the Child Maintenance Service or an application to the court, wherever appropriate.
Child Maintenance Service
The Child Maintenance Service applies a specific calculation when determining how much a parent needs to pay. Broadly, they look at the non-resident parent's’ gross income, deduct pension contributions and calculate a percentage figure of this amount. However, if the non-resident parent has overnight stays with their child, then this sum is likely to reduce. Equally, if the non-resident parent has a child living with them, the sum will decrease.
If you know the other parent’s gross income, then you can calculate what the government considers to be a reasonable amount here
Schedule 1 claims
In certain situations, you may need to apply to court rather than the Child Maintenance Service. These claims are generally referred to as Schedule 1 claims and include:
- If your ex’s income exceeds £3,000 gross per week, the Child Maintenance Service will calculate the liability up to that figure and you can then apply to the court for a top-up
- If your ex lives abroad then the Child Maintenance Service cannot help you and you would need to apply to court
- Funds to provide housing for the children are also known as ‘settlement’ of property or transfer of a property. As the house is for the benefit of the child, not the parent, the court will usually order the property to be made available for a specific period of time and with certain conditions attached rather than ordering an outright transfer to the parent with care.
- School fees
- Payments associated with any disability that your child may have
- Lump sum orders to cover capital or one-off expenditure items for your children such as a car or computer. They can include payments for debts and past expenditure in some cases
The key thing to remember is that you are not making an application for yourself but to meet the financial needs of your children which is why the settlement comes to an end when the children reach adulthood.
This is a complex area of law and you will certainly need expert legal advice. Families should always be encourage to keep disputes out of the courts wherever possible.
Some useful resources
Expert legal advice
For more information or an informal chat about your next steps, contact us on 0344 326 0450 or email us.