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How To Secure Financial Support and Child Maintenance From a High Earner

If you are an unmarried parent seeking child maintenance from the non-resident parent, your first recourse is likely to be the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). However, the CMS’s jurisdiction is limited to cases where the non-resident parent earns less than £156,000 gross per annum and is based in the UK. If you are seeking child maintenance from a high earner and/ or someone based outside of the UK, you may be able to apply to the court for additional financial provision for your child’s benefit.

Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 (Schedule 1) provides provisions to protect and provide for financial support for a child in a situation where the parents are unmarried or have not entered into a civil partnership. Unfortunately, due to most of the existing case law featuring high-net-worth couples, the option of a Schedule 1 application can often be overlooked. In fact, the provisions are in no way limited to ‘big money’ cases, it can be used by any parent who falls outside of the CMS jurisdiction and requires financial support for their child.

The court’s powers in a Schedule 1 case can include:

top-up maintenance (you must have a maximum maintenance assessment completed by the CMS first);

payment of school fees;

lump sum(s);

a “carer’s allowance” – this may be used to cover paying for childcare, petrol for taking the children to school and extra-curricular activities etc.; and

the purchase or transfer of a property to the parent who cares for the child, which will be returned to the non-resident parent when the child completes their education or turns 18.

In situations where a child has a disability or exceptional circumstances apply, the Court can make orders for periodical payments and lump sums.

It is important to note that parents can make Schedule 1 arrangements between themselves with the help of a Family Law Solicitor and/or a Mediator.

What will the Court consider when deciding on a Schedule 1 application?

When the Court is asked to consider a Schedule 1 application, it will examine:

The financial resources available to both parents;

Additional responsibilities, for example, other children outside the relationship; Any disabilities of the subject child;

The financial needs of the child;

The standard of living and original choices that were made for the subject child – for example, private school, a large extra-curricular schedule, overseas excursions etc.

Both parents must provide full and frank financial disclosure.

The Court’s overriding consideration is ‘are the needs of the child being met?’ rather than what is necessarily fair or equal.

Can a Schedule 1 application extend to other maintenance provisions that do not concern the child?

In the recent case of CA v DR [2021] EWFC 21, 2021 WL 00878551] the Family Court held that a Schedule 1 claim for child maintenance by an unmarried mother could not extend to funding a personal pension for the mother or funding the build-up of savings from child maintenance payments to provide for the mother’s ongoing needs after the child’s financial support ended. Mrs Justice Roberts quoted Lord Justice Macur in Re A (a child) [2014] EWCA Civ 1577 at paragraph 19:

“The literal or purposive interpretation of Schedule 1 does not permit [..] by the back door, financial provision and compensation for the carer beyond that element attributable to the care of the child during his minority, or other determined duration of dependency. There is no established authority to the contrary. The judgment of Lady Hale in Gow v Grant [2012] UKSC 29, [2012] 3 FCR 73, at paragraphs 44 – 56 which urges reform of the law to re- balance the financial consequences of relationship breakdown in cohabitation, makes this clear, as does the prevailing case law on this point…”

Final words

Schedule 1 provides an alternative route for unmarried parents seeking additional child maintenance payments where the non-resident parent’s income exceeds the CMS jurisdiction, and/ or where they are based outside of the UK. Instructing an experienced Family Law Solicitor will ensure your interests are protected and you achieve your objectives when making the application.

Edwards Family Law is a niche London-based firm specialising in high-net-worth divorce and international family law. To find out more about child maintenance orders and Schedule 1 claims, please phone +44 (0)20 3983 1818 or email contact@edwardsfamilylaw.co.uk. All enquiries are treated in the strictest confidence.