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Financial support for children

We know that children do not come cheap and understand that financial support of a child is important. So what financial rights do you have if you are the main carer for a child?

Since the Child Support Act 1991, the family courts have moved away from dealing with maintenance claims for a child. The court now only has limited powers to order financial support for the benefit of a child.

Child Maintenance Service

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS), formerly known as Child Support Agency (CSA) has been set up to ensure parents who do not live with a child make regular payments towards that child's financial support. The payment of and maintenance does not depend on whether you see your child or not, the obligation for support of a child is mandatory. A parent’s financial responsibility for a child lasts until the child is 20 years of age or finishes full time secondary education whichever is the earlier. The Child Maintenance Service offers an online calculator https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-child-maintenance which allows you to input your income or the other parent’s with child arrangement information, to enable you to determine how much you or your former partner should receive for child support.

Child Maintenance TOP UP order

The court does have powers to make orders for some children if their parents are significantly wealthy high earners, this is sometimes known as a Top Up order or School Fee's order and allows the parent with care of the child to ask the court to make additional financial provision for a child under the Children Act 1989. When considering the application, the court would take into consideration, the income of the paying parent, the financial needs of the parent making the application and the welfare of the child. Therefore, if you are struggling to meet the needs of your child's education fees and your former partner is unwilling to contribute to the fees then you can ask the court to order the other parent to make regular payments towards the fees, in addition to the statutory child support you already receive.

Providing a home for your child

The court also has the power to help a parents with care to provide a home for their child. This is of course dependent on the wealth of the parent who does not live with the child. If your former partner is wealthy, then you could ask the court to order that they contribute towards the purchase of a home for your child or purchase a home for your child to live in until they are independent. The home would only be provided for so long as the child was in occupation of the property and in full time education. After the child left home for instance, the house would be sold and any money paid by your former partner would be repaid.

The court also has the power to order a Lump Sum Order, which means that if needed the court could order that your former partner give you a cash amount to help you set up home, depending on your circumstances and your ability to repay the money, the court would either order that you can keep the money or repay it over time.

Child Support if a parent dies

The death of a parent is a terrible loss for any child. If you and the deceased parent were no longer in a relationship or the deceased parent has not made provision for the child in their Will, then you can make an application to the court under the Inheritance (Family Law and Dependants) Act 1972. We have specialist solicitors who can help you make a claim against the estate of the deceased parent to provide support for your child.

Family Team

Lindsey Canning

Deborah Marsh
Associate & Collaborative Lawyer

Victoria Walker
Family Law Executive

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