Schedule 1 Children Act 1989 – Financial Support for Children
AN UPDATE to be read in conjunction with Child Maintenance and Schedule 1 – which one?
At Paradigm Family Law we continue to see high levels of enquiries from unmarried parents concerning child maintenance and financial provision outside of the remit of the Child Support Agency (CSA) or Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) – collectively the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
It is however noteworthy, particularly in the wake of Channel 4’s recent documentary “The Truth About Muslim Marriages” (aired 10.00pm 21st November 2017 http://www.channel4.com/info/press/news/new-channel-4-survey-reveals-the-truth-about-muslim-marriage), that applications for appropriate financial provision under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 are also open to women who have undergone a traditional Islamic wedding ceremony in the absence of a civil ceremony. In such circumstances they are rendered unable to access the provisions of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 upon the breakdown of their relationship.
Applications under Schedule 1 can be brought against a ‘parent’ by any one of the following:
o a parent,
o special guardian or
o any person in whose favour a residence order is in force.
‘Parent’ is defined as the biological parent or other persons who are parents by operation of the law. This includes a formerly married parent.
Schedule 1 applications are not limited to maintenance. The Court can make lump sum orders as well as property orders. Under Schedule 1 the Court can also make orders for maintenance and lump sums for children over 18 in full time education or where there are special circumstances, such as a disability.
Schedule 1 is also open, in appropriate circumstances, to parties who were previously married by way of a civil ceremony and who may have already made claims under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
In cases where the provision of capital sums are required for the benefit of a child/ren such claims as the following may be included within the application:
- Reasonable sum for housing;
- House repair fund;
- Motor car;
- Birth costs;
- Clearance of credit card debt;
- Investment fund for school fees;
- Legal costs of the Applicant (both past and future costs);
- Legal costs for s8 Children Act 1989 proceedings;
- Legal costs for appeal against CMS calculation
The Court will however be quick to ensure that the claims being made are indeed being made on behalf of a child and will be careful to guard against a disguised claim being made for the benefit of the parent N v C  EWCH 399 (Fam).
Such claims on behalf of the parent fall within the same governance as of a co-habitant who must rely on making their claims under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.
In the recent case of Green v Adams  EWFC 24 the mother had sought a further capital sum of £20,600.00 for a replacement car and to fund overseas trips and personal items for the child in addition to the earlier lump sum of £220,000.00 which had been settled on the child for housing. The mother was successful in her application and during the case the Court showed its willingness to take pre-emptive action, given the likely non-compliance with Court orders by the paying party, by placing an immediate absolute Charging Order over one of the properties owned by the father.
When the amended child maintenance scheme was introduced in 2012 the calculation of maintenance became based solely on the non-resident parent’s gross income and the assets ground for varying a calculation was removed. This allowed capital-rich, income-poor parents to pay significantly less child maintenance than they perhaps would have done under the previous scheme. In the case of Green v Adams  EWFC 24 the father was paying only £7.00 per week despite having assets of several million pounds as he lived off his capital and had only a very low level of actual income.
In a tweet Mr Justice Mostyn calls for the government to reinstate the “assets” ground for varying a child support calculation under the gross income scheme and indicates his willingness to repair the omission by taking a broader view of what constitutes singular capital expenditure in applications for a lump sum under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989
For more details on child maintenance and financial provision under Schedule 1, please do not hesitate to contact James, Frank or Evelyn. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 0845 6020422 or email to [email protected]. You can also follow us on twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest news and views on family law.