An article in the Daily Mail yesterday reports that almost half of parents surveyed admitted that they had used savings earmarked for their children in times of financial difficulty.
Allocation of savings previously agreed to be used or saved for the benefit of the Children is an issue which often causes disagreements when parents’ Divorce or Separate. This can include a dispute as to whether those savings should continue to be ring-fenced and left for the children, rather than used by each of the parents to help meet their new housing needs, or, if it is accepted they should be saved - which of the parents will have control over the funds, and in what circumstances it will be used by or for the child.
There is no right or wrong answer as to how such funds will be treated on a divorce, as each case is looked at on its own specific facts. It is however important to recognise that the immediate needs of the parties and the children of the family will be the court’s first consideration, and if it appears that those needs can’t be met without using funds previously thought of as being for the children, then the court can and will refuse to ignore those assets. As a result, if it is important to both parents that such accounts remain untouched, it is far better for them to agree a settlement by consent which is then approved by the court, rather than taking matters to a final hearing and allowing the court to decide how the family’s assets should be allocated.