Solicitors in Essex & London
Unmarried parents of children have a limited number of options to make financial claims for the benefit of their children in the event they separate and cannot reach a settlement directly between themselves. If maintenance cannot be agreed, then the parent with whom the children reside would need to make an application to the Child Maintenance Service. This is a complex area of family law, and our specialist family solicitors in Essex have a wealth of experience in dealing with financial disputes between unmarried partners about children.
There is no automatic obligation on the absent parent to provide housing or other financial support for the children, but an application can be made by the parent with whom the children reside for financial assistance pursuant to Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989, which makes provision in relation to financial relief for children.
Applications can be made under Schedule 1 by a parent, guardian, special guardian or person who has a residence order in favour of the child.
An application can be made for periodical payments (where the CMS does not have jurisdiction), a lump sum payment or a settlement of property and/or transfer of property.
The court will have regard to a number of factors including:
Orders for periodical payments will only be made where the Child Maintenance Service does not have jurisdiction. This can include where the respondent lives abroad, or where his or her income exceeds £2,000 per week, in which case a 'top-up' order could be made. An application can also be made to include educational expenses and expenses for a disabled child.
The court can make an order for a lump sum for an unlimited amount and this could be paid in instalments. Some sums can be paid in respect of liabilities and expenses incurred in connection with the birth of the child or in maintaining the child which are reasonably incurred. A lump sum order can be applied for on more than one occasion during a child's minority.
The court can order the transfer or settlement of property to the parent with whom the child or children reside for the benefit of the child. Unlike periodical payment orders and lump sum orders, only one order can be made for settlement or transfer of property and as the settlement is upon the child, such settlements will revert to the paying party upon majority. This is because the transfer or settlement is made for the benefit of the child or children and not for the benefit of the parent.
We understand that seeing a lawyer for the first time about any issue relating to your children can be a daunting and stressful experience.
Our specialist Tier 1 Legal 500 family law team includes Resolution accredited specialists in child law. We offer a free 30-minute initial consultation* to provide you with general advice and advise you upon the best way forward.
*Free consultations with our family solicitors are only available at our main Essex offices in Brentwood, Hornchurch and Upminster and are not available in cases where proceedings have been issued. Fixed fee appointments are available at Canary Wharf (London) and Leigh-on-Sea (Essex).