Schedule 1 to the Children Act can be used to provide financial support for a child where the parents of a child have not been married or civil partners.
Where parents are unmarried, Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 enables a parent with whom the child lives to apply for the below orders against the parent with whom the child does not live:
1. Periodical payments - Ordinarily, the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will deal with child maintenance. However, periodical payments, which are regular payments made by the non-resident parent, can be ordered where the CMS cannot deal with child maintenance. For example, this will be in situations where:
- 'Top Up' child maintenance is claimed where the non-resident parent has a gross income of £3,000 per week.
- The CMS does not have jurisdiction, namely, where the non-resident parent lives in a different country.
- Where the child is disabled, and child maintenance is required to meet the expenses associated with the child's disability.
- Where child maintenance is required to meet expenses incurred for the payment of private school fees or training for a trade, profession or vocation.
2. Lump Sum Payments - The Court can order the non-resident parent to pay a lump sum to the resident parent for the child's benefit or to the child directly. This could be a lump sum to fund the purchase of a car, educational equipment, home furniture, or even home removal costs. The Court allows repeat applications to be made by the resident parent. A lump sum can be paid by way of instalments.
3. Housing provision - The resident spouse can apply for an order for the settlement or the transfer of property from the non-resident parent to the resident parent for the child's benefit. Normally, housing will be provided whilst the child remains a minor. The Court is permitted to make one order for the settlement or transfer of property.
4. Legal Services Order - The Court can make an order requiring one parent to pay the other parent money to pay their legal fees. The applicant's parent would need to demonstrate that such payments are necessary to allow them to obtain legal services for the purpose of the proceedings and show that without such payment, they would not be able to obtain the legal services.
Who can apply for financial provision under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989?
A parent, stepparent, guardian or person named in a child arrangements order as a person with whom the child is to live may apply for the range of orders.
A child over the age of 18 may be able to apply for an order of periodical payment in some circumstances.
This would usually be for financial support for further education or vocational training.
How do I apply for financial provision under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989?
1. Try to agree financial provision for your child with the other parent
An application to the Court for financial provision under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989 is not always necessary. Rather, parties should initially aim to form an agreement with the other parent before court proceedings are issued. Solicitors can assist in helping the parties reach an agreement or mediation can assist the parties in reaching an agreement.
2. Attend a MIAM
If an agreement is not possible, before issuing court proceedings, you will need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) unless an exemption applies.
3. Make an application to the Court
The person applying for an order is called the applicant, and the other person is the respondent. An application to the family court must be made on Form A1. There is a court fee to pay of £275.
4. Application served on the Respondent
Once the Court receives the application, the Court will serve the application on the respondent. The Court will provide the respondent with notice of the first hearing and will also provide the respondent with a blank Form E1. This is a financial disclosure form that both parties must complete, setting out their financial circumstances.
5. Exchange financial circumstances
Within 14 days of the application being issued, both parents must exchange financial disclosure simultaneously and file this with the Court. The parties will complete and sign a Form E1, which will outline each parent's financial details, and supporting evidence will be required.
6. First Hearing
The matter will be listed for a first hearing, and both parties must attend. Ordinarily, this will be between 4-8 weeks after the application is issued. The Court will attempt to determine the application at this first appointment. However, the Court may order further evidence to be provided by the parties and may set a date for either a directions or a final hearing.
7. Directions Hearing
At this hearing, the parties have the opportunity to negotiate with one another in an attempt to settle the matter. The Court will consider evidence from both of the parties to narrow the issues that are in dispute. If the parties can reach an agreement, this can be recorded by the Court in an order. The matter will be listed for a final hearing when the parties cannot reach an agreement.
8. Final Hearing
At this hearing, the judge will again consider the evidence of both parties. The final hearing judge will be different to the judge at the directions hearing. The judge will make a decision to determine the issues in dispute.
What factors will the Court consider when assessing financial provisions?
The Court will consider the child's welfare and the following factors:
1. The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which the parents have or are likely to have in the foreseeable future;
2. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which the parents have or are likely to have in the foreseeable future;
3. The financial needs of the child;
4. The income, earning capacity (if any), property and other financial resources of the child;
5. Any physical or mental disability of the child;
6. The manner in which the child was being, or was expected to be, educated or trained.