Financial provision for children
Financial provision for children includes the following categories: obligatory child maintenance, top up child maintenance; housing provision; lump sum payment to cover expenses and school fees. If these matters can be agreed, the terms can be part of a written agreement between the parents.
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What is financial provision for children?
Every parent has a duty to provide financially for his or her own children, and sometimes step-children too. When parents separate or divorce, this usually means that one parent becomes the resident parent, and the non-resident parent will need to contribute financially to the maintenance of the children.
In ideal scenarios, parents can agree on the amount and regularity of maintenance payments without having to go to court. Where this isn't possible, the resident parent can apply to the (CMS) to ensure that the non-resident parent makes regular maintenance payments.
Financial provision may also include applying to the court for top up maintenance, seeking provision for housing or for school fees to be paid
Does property form part of financial provision for children?
Yes. In addition to paying for the living expenses of their children, parents may be required to contribute to the cost of the home where the children will live.
This can mean that – in cases where the shared home is owned rather than rented - the non-resident parent may be required to give a lump sum to the resident parent to help pay for a new home after separation. This can happen in several ways, with the most common being:
- The family home is sold, and until the children become independent, the resident parent receives a greater share of the net proceeds of sale of the family home, enabling them to buy a suitable home in which to raise the children
- The resident parent is given the right - either with agreement by the non-resident parent, or as ordered by a court - to remain in the family home until such time as any children reach the age of 18 or finish full time secondary education.
The purpose of this is to the best possible living arrangements for children, but they can cause difficulties for non-resident parents, particularly if they are left without the means to buy another home following separation.
However, it should be noted that if the non-resident parent is required to provide a property for the children to live in, that to that parent once the children are independent if he or she was not married to the other parent.
If the family home remains the home of the children during their minority, this may cause difficulties for the non-resident parent in particular. That's why it is essential to take expert legal advice as early as possible, in order to reach financial provision arrangements that allow both parties, as well as the children, to carry on with their lives with as much certainty as possible.
Do school fees form part of child financial provisions?
Yes. If your child or children are currently at a fee-paying school and you intend to keep them there, the non-resident parent can be asked to make a contribution to these fees.
It's worth bearing in mind though that the Child Maintenance Service won't take school fees into account in its calculations, so you will need to either agree this payment directly with the other parent, or seek a requiring them to contribute to school fees if they are unwilling to do so voluntarily.
As a general rule, a parent will only be required to contribute towards school fees if the income allows them to do so.
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