Child Maintenance and Support
The Child Maintenance Service (which has replaced the old Child Support Agency) has responsibility for assessing the level of maintenance the non-resident parent should pay the parent with care on behalf of the child on divorce. The court does not have jurisdiction on divorce to assess child maintenance apart from certain exceptions, such as for a step-child who is a child of the family or where the absent parent is habitually resident outside the United Kingdom.
The Court retains Jurisdiction for applications concerning the payment of school fees.
The Court also retains Jurisdiction in the dissolution of a Civil Partnership Agreement for consideration of maintenance for a child of the family.
If the parents have never been married the non-resident parent must also make an application to the Child Maintenance Service if an agreement cannot be reached.
Topping Up Orders
If the non-resident parent’s net weekly income exceeds £2,000.00 the parent with care can apply to the court for a Topping Up Orders.
Financial Provision for a Child
Subject to the provisions of the Child Support Act 1991, the Court has powers under Schedule I of the Children Act 1989 to make the following orders for the benefit of the child:
- Periodical Payments
- Secured Periodical Payments
- Lump Sum
- Transfer of Property
In reality the court is unable to make a periodical payments order unless a topping up order is applicable, or there is agreement between the parents, but even then either parent can apply to the Child Maintenance Service one year after the Court Order for an assessment.
The Court can order a capital transfer for the benefit of a child, for example to provide a home for the child, but normally the capital would revert back to the non-resident parent when the child reaches the age of majority. This is useful where the parents are unmarried or it was a short marriage and the non-resident parent is wealthy.
The Court also has powers under Schedule 8 of the Children Act 1989 to make an order in connection with any aspect of Parental Responsibility for a child.