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Financial provision for children of unmarried couples

When an unmarried couple separate there is often confusion about what financial provision can be applied for for children.

If you are married and getting divorced then everything we need to know about divorce and finances is contained within the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

When unmarried couples have a child together then the parent with care may wish to seek financial provision under Schedule 1 of the 1989 Children Act.

Applications under Schedule 1 of the Children Act can be for periodical payments for the child, the power to award a lump sum, transfer and settlement of property. The Court’s power also extends to making orders for periodical payments and lump sums for children over the age of 18 in full time education or where special circumstances exist such as disability.

Many people cohabit with and without dependent children.

An Application under Schedule 1 can be made against a “parent” by a parent, guardian, special guardian or any person in whose favour a residence order is in force.

We are, at Willsons, seeing an increase in parents using Schedule 1 of the 1989 Children Act when separating from their partners and having no legal interest in the property where the family lived.

It is possible to make an Application to the Court to live in the house for the children’s minority even though that house is owned by the other parent.

There are a number of matters that the Court has to take into account and the Court is guided by a 6 point check list.   The Court must have regard to all of the circumstances of the case including:


  1. The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each person mentioned in sub paragraph (4) has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
  2. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each person mentioned in the sub paragraph (4) has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
  3. The financial needs of the child;
  4. The income, earning capacity (if any), property and other financial resources of the child;
  5. Any physical or mental disability of the child;
  6. The manner in which the child was being or was expected to be educated or trained;

The Court does have a wide discretion in relation to ordering lump sums also under Schedule 1 of the Children Act.   In the case of re M – M (Schedule 1 Provision) 2FLR 1391, the Court of Appeal approved in principle the payment of the Applicant’s credit card debts and repairs to her own property.  The Court held that they must balance the father’s circumstances, which may be wealthy, with the needs of the mother in raising the child but without importing an element of profit for the mother.

Schedule 1 can come in very useful particularly where the non-resident parent may be financially struggling to the point that they cannot provide for the child. Where one parent is reliant upon benefits or very low income, particularly where it can mean the relationship between the non-resident parent and child could be at risk of breakdown because they cannot provide for the child during contact.

Should you wish to discuss any of these issues then please contact our family department at Willsons Solicitors on 024 76387821.

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