Putting the kids first: family-friendly financial settlements

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When separating and divorcing, providing for your children is not just an emotional issue, but a financial one. From school fees to swimming classes, who will pay for what needs careful consideration. 

The basics

When a child lives with one parent, the other is legally required to contribute to their child’s living costs. The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is a government body that calculates and enforces minimum child maintenance payments. You can use their calculator  to estimate how much you will need to pay.

You can of course contribute more than the statutory minimum, if you want to. For example, Chris was dedicated to providing his children with a guaranteed sum which was higher than the CMS calculation, so he asked to include this in his financial settlement.

School fees and childcare

For some parents, being able to continue funding private education for their children is a priority. Denise and Peter chose to enter into a formal agreement to guarantee this, in which they agreed to ring-fence money from their house sale to ensure their son could stay at the school they had carefully chosen.

Daniel and Sarah planned to share care of their children equally, including the costs of sending them to a local nursery. They were able to have this written into their financial settlement.

Hobbies, holidays… and the extras

Who will cover Ellie’s ballet classes, or Oliver’s school trip? Will it be equal? Or will Mum pay because Dad pays for the school bus?

Discussing these contributions with your ex-spouse at the outset can stave off future misunderstandings and disputes. This also makes it possible to record in your settlement contributions to your child’s extracurricular activities that are important to you or your ex-spouse.

If you cannot agree, the Court can make various awards as part of your divorce settlement. The Court also has the power to make  financial provision for children under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989, regardless of whether you are married or in a civil partnership. This includes regular maintenance or school fees (including ‘top up’ maintenance for high earners), or an order that one parent should own or continue living in a shared home if they are caring for young children.

Article by Madison Fowler

Madison works with clients, who want a constructive process and a long-term solution that enables them to co-parent effectively and move forward with their live. Her aim is to protect clients and what is important to them without generating additional conflict or unnecessary costs.