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Providing for children after separation ...

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It is reported that within weeks of Katie Holmes issuing divorce proceedings against her multi-millionaire husband, Tom Cruise, they had agreed a financial settlement.  Thanks to a pre-nuptial agreement, the financial settlement relates solely to Mr Cruise’s financial provision for his daughter, Suri Cruise.  In addition to a substantial monthly payment, he will also meet all Suri’s educational costs.

Miss Holmes has her own financial resources but for many people, their greatest concern when separating from their partner, is ensuring that their children’s financial needs are met.  If a separating couple are married, financial provision for children will usually be dealt with within the matrimonial finances upon divorce but the Child Support Agency retains jurisdiction to deal with child maintenance.  However, there are still circumstances where the family courts can make financial orders for children, whether or not the parents were married, and meeting the educational needs of children, including paying for private school fees, for example, is one of these.

The team of family solicitors at Crombie Wilkinson are receiving an increasing number of enquiries and instructions from parents seeking financial support for their children.  As family solicitor, Rachell Bates explains: “It is important to bear in mind that family courts can only make financial orders for children in specific circumstances and for many families, the Child Support Agency will be their first and only port of call.  However, if a parent is looking for financial provision to maintain a lifestyle for their children, including continuing private education, for example, providing their ex partner has the necessary financial resources; it is open to them to pursue a financial claim for their children through the courts.”

Parents remain financially responsible for their children, whether or not they were married and each case must be considered on its own merits.  There is a choice of legislation and court applications available, depending on the circumstances.  The court has the power to make an order to top up child maintenance being paid as a result of a Child Support Agency assessment, or the court can order a parent to contribute towards a child’s educational costs, by paying private school fees, for example.  Applications can also be made for lump sums or the transfer of property.

Ms Bates summarises: “Although one of the first considerations in a potential financial claim for children is whether the other parent can afford to pay, he or she doesn’t have to be fabulously wealthy for a claim to succeed.  I urge any parents who are worried about providing for their children to obtain legal advice about their options as soon as possible as financial claims of this type are not retrospective and so invariably the sooner an application is made, the better.”

To speak to a family law specialist at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors, please contact any of our three offices at York, Selby or Malton.