On the breakdown of the relationship of an unmarried couple, financial claims can be made on behalf of their children. It is important to note that the nature of this financial provision is significantly different to that which can be claimed in the context of a divorce.

Financial claims as between the couple themselves are dealt with on the Financial provision in divorce page.

Whilst there has been wide support for many years for a change in legislation to allow more generous provision for unmarried parents with children (including a Law Commission report), it is highly unlikely that any substantive change will take place under the current government.

For the foreseeable future, the unmarried parent of a child can only seek financial provision for that child under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. This empowers the court to make one or more of the following financial orders:

  • Child maintenance (in addition to the maximum maintenance as assessed currently by the Child Maintenance Service), which can include the cost of a nanny, school fees and, in some cases, the costs of university education
  • A capital lump sum for costs directly referable to the child (for example, the purchase of a car or the costs of equipping the child’s home)
  • A transfer or settlement of property for the purpose of providing a home for the child during their minority (which will mean that once the child completes their secondary or tertiary education, the property which was transferred or settled will be returned to the parent who funded or provided it)

In making a decision as to the appropriate level of financial provision for the child, the court has regard to the following factors:

  • The parents’ respective financial resources
  • The parents’ needs and other responsibilities, including to any other children
  • The financial requirements of the child
  • Any disabilities of the child
  • The parents’ intentions as to the education of the child

Each parent is required to provide full details of their current financial position, including capital and income to enable the court to decide on the appropriate financial provision for the child. Court proceedings can take one year or more.

We can also assist you with finding alternative means of reaching an agreement.

If you require assistance, please contact us or request a call from one of our lawyers.

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Stephen Foster, Partner, Head of Divorce and Family, Stewarts