Financial responsibility for children

You might have seen the recent headlines featuring oil rig worker Ross Mclaughlan (or heard our very own Alison Bull on Talk Radio) who believes he has wrongly been forced to pay child maintenance for a child he has never met.

Regardless of what you think about whether or not it’s right for someone to pay maintenance in Ross’ circumstances, every legal parent is financially responsible for their child even if they do not have a relationship with the child and have not had a relationship with the child’s mother. This can even happen where someone has acted as a “sperm donor” and is not intending to have any role in the child’s life but is, because of the circumstances (usually treatment taking place outside of a UK licenced fertility clinic with an unmarried mother), treated as a legal parent – see more information on our insight here.

In the UK there is a statutory service which deals with child maintenance known as the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). The CMS applies a specific calculation based on the gross taxable income of the parent with whom the child does not live with or spends less than half their time with (called a non-resident parent). You can find a link to the CMS calculator here.

It’s also possible for either parent to apply to court for other financial claims known as Schedule 1 claims which include:

  • Claims for child maintenance where the non-resident parent earns above £3,000 gross per week or where the non-resident parent lives abroad.

  • Funds to provide a house for the child to live in until they are capable of being independent.

  • Payment of school fees and extras.

  • Payments associated with a child’s disability.

  • Lump sum orders to cover one off expenditure such as buying a car to transport the child in.

These sorts of financial claims can only be made against legal parents or someone who is married to a legal parent and has treated the child as if they were their own. For unmarried parents a Schedule 1 claim can be particularly important to help them get financial support to raise their child and for international families in certain circumstances the claims can even be made where the child lives abroad. 

What, if any, financial provision is ordered by the court will depend on both parties’ financial circumstances and the child’s needs.

We can help you understand your position and the options available to you to resolve matters.  You can find out more information on our child maintenance page or by contacting one of our legal experts on 0344 326 0450.

Kris Arpon