Explained: Schedule 1 of the Children Act

A change in social and demographic trends over the last decade has seen cohabiting couples both with and without dependent children as the fastest growing family type. Earning capacity has also changed significantly. While salaries have not risen in line with inflation, the number of individuals earning £3,000 gross per week and over is now far more common than a decade ago, and no longer restricted to the realms of footballers and celebrities.

When cohabiting parties separate, unlike married couples, cohabiting parties do not have any claims against each other as a result of their relationship. When there are children involved the only claim that a parent has is for child maintenance – a monthly sum of money that the non-resident parent pays to the resident parent for the benefit of the child, calculated by the Child Maintenance Service, in accordance with a fixed formula. This can be particularly worrying when a relationship comes to an end for the parent who does not own or have any interest in the family home. This is where Schedule 1 of the Children Act can assist in addressing the financial needs of a child.

Un-married parents seeking financial provision for a child upon separation can apply to court for the benefit of the child for top up child maintenance, where the Child Maintenance Service has assessed that the non-resident parent’s / payer’s income exceeds the maximum maintenance assessment of £3,000 gross per week / £156,000 gross per annum.

Schedule 1 applications, however, are not restricted to periodical payments. In addition, the Court has power to order capital provision:

  • Lump sum for the benefit of the children
  • Transfer and Settlement of property for the benefit of the children

Unlike claims that can be made by a parent in the context of divorce, claims relate only to the needs of the child and not the needs of the parents. Accordingly, property settled on an applicant for the benefit of housing a child, regardless of the quality of the accommodation secured, will usually revert to the settlor when the child reaches majority. Likewise, any monetary payments will stop when the child reaches 18. This said, the Court’s power does extend to making orders for periodical payments and lump sums for children over the age of 18 if in full time education or where special circumstances i.e, disability exist.

As more people are choosing to live together rather than marry, it is increasingly likely for separating couples within dependants to be affected by Schedule 1.

If you require advice, we are here to help. Please contact our expert family team.