Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 gives the court power to make Orders for financial provision for children. A parent, guardian or person with whom a child lives with under a Child Arrangements Order can apply to the court for financial provision for a child.
The claim can only relate to the needs of the child and not the needs of the parent, generally financial support will last only until the child is 18. The court has to consider the child’s welfare as its paramount concern.
The majority of applications under Schedule 1 are where parents are unmarried or they have some wealth or if a child has a disability.
The court can order in certain circumstances that an Order can be made against a step-parent but would have regard to that individual as to a) whether that person had assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the child and if so to the extent to which and basis on which they assumed that responsibility and the length of period which they met that responsibility or b) whether they did so knowing that the child was not there’s and c) the liability of any other person to maintain that child.
The court has the power to make the following Orders for the benefit of a child:
- Periodical payments
- Secure periodical payments
- Lump sum Order
- Settlement of property
- Transfer of property
The court will require each parent to declare their full financial positions from which the court will take into account the following circumstances when considering the appropriate level of financial provision for a child namely:
- The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each party has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- The needs, obligations or responsibilities which each party has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- The needs of any child
- The income, earning capacity (if any) property and other resources of the child
- The physical and mental disabilities of any child
- The manner in which the child was being or was expected to be educated or trained.
The landmark ruling was in the case of Re P (Child Financial Provision) 2003 2 FLR 865. In Re P it was established the principle of determining a child’s maintenance requirements was not solely on the basis of a strict budgetary requirement but including an element to represent a carer’s allowance.
Legal costs can be sought but is discretionary for the court’s consideration. The general rule in the Children Act 1989 is no order as to costs but that does not apply in Schedule 1 proceedings.
Generally unmarried couples turn to the CMS (Child Maintenance Service) for income claims but where a non-resident parent earns in excess of £156,000 per annum gross then Schedule 1 can be used for top up.
The primary sources of Schedule 1 claims are as follows:
- Top up maintenance (only if a maximum assessment has been made by the CMS)
- The payment of school fees
- Lump sum payments
- A “carer’s allowance” eg., to provide the child care costs/nanny, running a car to transport the child etc and
- The purchase or transfer of property to the parent with care of the children which will be returned to the parent who funded it when no longer needed by the child eg., has reached majority or has finished full time education. The court has power to extend the Order beyond 18 and full time education where special circumstances apply eg. Disability.
Given the affordability of homes more individuals are seeking orders of this nature to try and maintain a roof over the head of a child.