Financial Provision for Children | Divorce Lawyers & Family Law Solicitors | Austin Kemp

Child Law

Financial Provision for Children

Financial provision for children is very crucial, particularly in cases of separation, divorce, or where there has been a breakdown of a relationship.

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When both parents provide financial support for their children, it ensures they receive adequate support, which includes: health, education, and general upkeep.

Read on to learn the legal definition of “child maintenance,” its significance, and the avenues that exist in England and Wales.

What Is Child Support?

Child support, which is given to the parent with whom the child spends the majority of their time, is money given to one parent for the benefit of the other. Child maintenance is also referred to as “child support,” and it is mostly paid periodically.

Various factors affect the amount to be paid, such as the number of children involved, the income, living expenses of both parents, and the number of nights the child spends with each parent.

The payment is made either directly to the parent or to government agencies responsible for distributing and collecting child support. The payment is made regularly, either weekly or monthly.

Why is Child Maintenance Important?

Child maintenance is very important for a child’s well-being and cannot be underestimated. By ensuring that the parent with care receives financial support, child maintenance enables them to fulfil their child’s requirements without facing excessive financial difficulties.

It is also essential to ensure both parents take responsibility for the upbringing of their children, regardless of their living conditions. It also ensures that child poverty is reduced, as the support received goes towards the necessities for a child, including food, clothing, and shelter.

When both parents take an active role in bringing up their child, this promotes a positive co-parenting relationship and is also important for the child’s emotional well-being as they feel more secure and loved when both parents take the responsibility to bring them up.

Legal Options for securing child maintenance

There are different legal options available to help secure child maintenance in England and Wales. The most common options include:

1. Private arrangements

This involves both parents agreeing on the amount and frequency of the child maintenance payments. They are very straightforward, and payments are made directly to the parent with care.

Private arrangements can be formal or informal, depending on the level of trust between the parents. Informal arrangements are not legally binding, but if the parents are on good communication terms, that might work for ensuring the child’s needs are met.
Formal arrangements can be enforceable by law by drafting a voluntary agreement or a consent order, which is then approved by the court. It obliges non-resident parents to pay the maintenance, and if they fail to do so, legal action may be taken against them.

2. Child maintenance service

This is a free service that is available to anyone who needs help securing child maintenance funds. The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is a government agency responsible for collecting and distributing child maintenance payments.

Using the income of the parent who doesn’t live with the child and other relevant factors, the appropriate amount of child maintenance that must be paid can be determined by the child maintenance service.

Child support obligations must continue until the child reaches the age of 16. However, if the child is in “approved education or training,” the payment may continue until the age of 20. Having the right legal representation can ensure that both parties don’t hide money they should provide for child support.

Subsequently, the money could be carefully taken out of the non-resident parent’s bank account or pay cheque before being given to them. The CMS can also enforce payment if the non-resident parent fails to pay, including taking legal action and deducting the payment from their benefits.

3. Court orders

When parents cannot agree on payments through the CMS or using a private agreement, the parent with care can seek a court order for the upkeep of the child.

This entails requesting a maintenance order from the tribunal. This is allowed by Schedule 1 of the Children Act of 1989. When maintenance orders have been applied, it sets out the amount and frequency of child maintenance payable by the non-resident parent.

The court employs the CMS formula, which remains in use, to determine child support payments. This formula calculates the amount based on a percentage of the weekly gross salary of the paying parent, which ranges from £200 to £3,000 per week. The amount for two kids is 16 percent, while the cost for one child is 12 percent.

Courts can also make temporary orders before the final decision is reached. When making maintenance orders, the courts consider various factors, including the income and living expenses of both parents, the number of children in question, and the child’s necessities.

The non-resident parent has a legal responsibility to pay the amount stated in the maintenance order. Failure to comply can lead to legal action being taken against them. Furthermore, the court may issue enforcement orders, compelling the non-resident parent to pay any remaining child maintenance or face legal penalties.

4. Orders That the Court Can Make

The court can issue various orders, including for periodic payments, property transfers or settlements, and lump sums. Periodical payments are only made when the Child Maintenance Service has no jurisdiction and must end with the death of the paying parent or if the applicant and respondent parent live together for at least six months.

A property It is possible to get a transfer or settlement order for the benefit of the child, which must be returned to the paying parent when the child reaches adulthood, typically at the age of 21. A parent with care can apply for lump sums.

Lump sums are used to cover expenses like furnishing a child’s room, transportation, or a computer that are not expected to be reimbursed by the paying parent. The paying parent is entitled to prove that the lump sum was used for the benefit of the child, particularly if it was intended to be used for household expenses.

Advantages of Child Maintenance

  • If there is a history of abuse, it is not necessary to be in contact with the other parent. This means that if you do not want to be in touch with the other parent, you have the option not to.
  • The amount of child support that must be paid will be decided by the Child Maintenance Service. The Service will give the parents the proper payment or collection schedules, which will inform them of their payment information after the amount has been decided.
  • It costs nothing to use the Child Maintenance Service Direct Pay option.
  • In cases where a parent is unwilling to share their personal information, the Child Maintenance Service has the power to obtain the necessary details from other government agencies or the parent’s employer.
  • If both parents agree, it is possible to revert to a family-based arrangement in the future.
  • When one parent is untraceable or unwilling to take responsibility for child support, the Child Maintenance Service has the authority to locate them, evaluate payments, collect payments, and take enforcement action when necessary.
  • If you and the other have a tense relationship, this might be an appropriate parent. The Child Maintenance Service’s ability to collect and enforce the proper amount of maintenance payment may be advantageous to you.

Disadvantages of Child Maintenance

  • Child Maintenance Service arrangements involve formal procedures and paperwork, which can result in delays when updating them, particularly in situations where changes in circumstances occur.
  • The more legal processes are involved, the more challenging it can be for both the child and the relationship between the parents.
  • Child Maintenance Service arrangements provide less flexibility in terms of making and receiving payments, making it more difficult to make special arrangements for things like summer holidays.
  • You must provide the Child Maintenance Service with your information.
  • Once you request that the Child Maintenance Service determine how much maintenance is required You have to follow their ruling in order to pay. It is not possible to request that the CMS collect maintenance payments in excess of what has been calculated using their method.

Child Maintenance for Children with Disabilities

Children with disabilities may require extra care and incur additional expenses, such as medical treatment, therapy, assistive equipment, and home modifications. The non-resident parent is obligated to contribute to these costs, and the amount of child maintenance payable may be modified to reflect this.

Additionally, the parent providing care may be eligible for disability-related benefits or tax credits to supplement their income. It is recommended to seek legal guidance to ensure that all potential financial aid options are considered.

Factors to Consider for Children with Disabilities

When calculating child maintenance for a child with disabilities, there are several additional factors to consider, such as:

  • The child’s condition and its impact on their daily life.
  • The child’s medical and care requirements including any specialised equipment or services needed.
  • The cost of any necessary home or vehicle modifications.
  • The availability of disability-related benefits or tax credits for the parent with care of the child.

It is essential to consider these factors, to ensure a reasonable amount of child maintenance is paid.

How can Austin Kemp’s divorce solicitors help you

So, you might be wondering why you need assistance from the legal experts at Austin Kemp. Ordinarily, divorce proceedings and court hearings may take up to one year for a final decision to be made. During such proceedings, any parent can be overwhelmed as they try to juggle the tough decisions and find the best ways forward.

Austin Kemp can ensure that you receive expert and experienced assistance throughout your child maintenance claim. Reach out to Austin Kemp Solicitors for help that will ensure you get a fair divorce settlement as well as sound financial provision for children.

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