In Family Law, there is an underutilised clause that protects and provides financial assistance for an unmarried parent’s kid. Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 contains provisions relating to this support.
When a marriage dissolves, the Husband and/or Wife may seek financial assistance from their spouse to satisfy their own needs and those of any family children. However, it seems that a comparable option for unmarried parents’ children after their divorce is not often discussed.
This is reasonable given the restricted availability of Schedule 1 proceedings for general dissemination. The published case law is mostly concerned with “large money” situations, and Schedule 1 petitions are often sought when the paying parent is deemed “super-rich.” Schedule 1, on the other hand, is not discriminatory. It is open to all parents who have a kid and need financial support to fulfil their child’s basic requirements. It is not a field of law reserved for the ultra-wealthy.
Fortunately, the majority of unmarried parents are aware of the obligation of the non-resident parent to pay child maintenance but there appears to be a lack of awareness regarding the area of law available to protect and provide for unmarried parents’ children.
Child Maintenance Service (CMS)
Applications under Schedule 1 are not limited to monthly payments. The majority of cases will have their monthly payments handled by the CMS. That is, a family-based arrangement in which the parties agree on the amount of money to be paid to the resident parent each month by the non-resident parent. Alternatively, the CMS may conduct an evaluation for which the parents either pay directly or the CMS collects and pays the charge. In rare situations when the non-resident parent’s income exceeds the maximum rate for CMS claims (£3,000 gross per week), Schedule 1 of the Children Act provides for the non-resident parent to petition the court for a “top up” of maintenance based on the child’s needs.
Along with the authority to consider petitions for periodic payments through a “top up” order, the Court has the authority to order the following to fulfil the child’s needs.
A one-time payment. This covers interim orders as well as any final lump sum payments to cover the resident parent’s legal costs associated with the application; Property transfer and settlement. This may imply that a non-resident parent is required to house the resident parent until the kid reaches the age of 18. The resident parent will not get the property entirely; rather, it will be kept in trust until a future triggering event occurs, such as the kid reaching the age of 18. (or later if agreed between the parties). The property would return to the non-resident parent upon this triggering occurrence. While the majority of Schedule 1 Orders are made for children under the age of 18, the Court has the authority to make additional orders in exceptional circumstances, such as when a child has disabilities that require additional financial provision after reaching the age of 18, as they will be unable to live independently after this age. It’s also worth noting that Schedule 1’s aim is to provide financial support for the kid. It is not for the purpose of providing financial support to the resident parent. The Court will, however, examine the “equality of arms” concept. This means that where it is clear that the resident parent lacks the financial means to pay for solicitors, it is frequently the case that if the non-resident parent does have the financial means to pay for legal representation, an order will be made requiring the non-resident parent to pay for the resident parent’s legal fees as well as their own during the proceedings.
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