Children, Separation and Financial Arrangements

We have extensive experience supporting separating families reach agreement or contest the appropriate level of future support for their children.

Times have changed and children's experience of separation today can often be something close to a shared arrangement.

Wherever and with whomever children live, funding their support and education is usually agreed. We only see the situations where, for one reason or another, agreement is not possible.

CMS

The Child Maintenance Service is the starting point for all children in England and Wales. Where children spend an unequal amount of time with their parents post separation, the one with the least time can be assessed by this government body. Initially formulaic, an “assessment” is usually easy to work out although for those whose income is derived from their assets the process can be more complicated.

The CMS cannot make an assessment where a parent does not live in the UK.

CMS Ceiling

Where the parent being assessed has a gross income exceeding £156,000, additional claims can be made through the courts for income and capital payments for children.

Divorce

If asked and where there is a maximum assessment by the CMS, the divorce courts can “top up” the payments to meet the child or children’s “needs”. Needs vary, they often depend on a combination of the available resources of the parents and the standard of living that might reasonably be expected to carry through to the family in separation.

The payments can include school fees and will generally continue (where affordable) until a child finishes its education.

A child's needs in terms of capital expenditure is mostly met through the provision made to the parent who is the primary carer.

Unmarried Parents

Where parents are not married, the parent with primary care (or the weaker economic parent) can apply to the court for income and capital.

Schedule 1 Children Act 1989 

Schedule 1 allows the parent described above to make a claim for income and capital to meet the needs of the child as follows:

  • Housing. A court can provide a home for a child and the parent with whom it lives. The home will not be the absolute property of either the child or the parent that he or she lives with. As soon as the child is 18/24 the property will be returned to the parent who provided it.
  • Other capital items. The list is long, from nursery equipment to a car. As with the housing award, these kinds of provisions usually end at 18, sometimes 21.
  • School Fees, possibly the cost of further education.
  • Income needs. The court can “top up “ the CMS assessment or make a provision where there is no assessment if a parent lives in another country. Needs reflect an ability to pay and the standard of living of the parent making the payment. Payments stop at the child's 18th or 21st birthday.

International Families 

Schedule 1 is often used by mothers who live with their children in England and Wales but the father lives abroad or where the mother and children live abroad and the father in England and Wales. Read more on the subject here.

Our Experience

  • M v F [2018] EWFC 35 - High value Schedule 1 proceedings, world wide freezing order and enforcement and costs provision.
  • Dickson v Rennie [2014] 2014 4306 (Fam).
  • Schedule 1 applications involving parents living in North America, Monaco, UAE, Australia, Gibraltar and Channel Islands.
  • Schedule 1 applications concerning a professional sportsman

Talk to us

If you require further information or advice from our team of expert family lawyers, please contact a member of our team or call us on +44 (0) 203 002 5833  Alternatively you can complete our online enquiry form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

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