What if I move on: does my child have to enjoy the same standard of living as their step sibling?
Schedule 1 of The Children Act 1989 enables the courts to make orders regarding financial provision for children. Most commonly, claims under Schedule 1 arise when non-married couples with children separate. They also arise with a ‘top up’ is sought from a very high earner beyond their minimum child support obligations. As there is no such thing as a “common law marriage” in England and Wales, often the only claim that can made in situations where cohabitees separate is a claim for child support and/or under Schedule 1.
What is child support?
Both parents are expected to pay towards the child/children’s costs. Usually, this means that one parent (the non-resident parent) will end up paying the other parent (the day-to-day carer of the child).
Child support claims – the Child Maintenance Service (CMS)
If the separated parents cannot come to an agreement between themselves (known as a voluntary or family-based arrangement), most parents who are looking for financial provision for their child/children would ask the CMS to calculate the child support. If the non-resident parent earns more than £156,000 gross per annum (the highest amount the CMS can take into account), the day-to-day carer of the child may decide to make an application to the court under Schedule 1.
Schedule 1 claims – what can the courts award?
The courts have the power to award lump sum payments, periodical payments and even the transfer of a property in order to meet the housing needs of the children (in this instance, the property is almost always returned to the other parent when the children no longer have need of it, generally upon reaching adulthood).
What will the judge consider when making his/her decision?
All of the circumstances of the case will be taken into account.
The judge will give regard to various factors, including both the applicant and the respondent’s income, as well as any property they have. The financial needs of the child will also be taken into account.
Does the child have to enjoy the same standard of living as their step siblings?
This often comes as a shock to parents but legally, no, they do not. There is no duty for the paying parent to make sure the child’s lifestyle is the same as the better-off parent or their other children.
Schedule 1 claims can be highly complex because there are many different factors to consider. What’s more, if a parent makes an unsuccessful Schedule 1 claim, they could find that they are responsible for both their own and the other parent’s legal costs. It is highly advisable that anyone considering a Schedule 1 claim seeks expert legal advice from an experienced family lawyer. Get in touch to book your free consultation with one of our team today.
This article was written by Megan Bennie and Lauren Howells.