Married Parents

If you are married there are a suite of automatic claims which can be made by which the financial resources of each party is pooled and then divided according to what is fair.

The court will look at all  the circumstances of a case, and the needs of any minor children of the family will be the court’s first consideration. This is a highly specialised area of law and requires careful advice.

One part of this particular jigsaw is the possibility of making a claim for the children. Usually, the children’s claim for housing will be subsumed within that of the parents. A pot of assets will be divided into two and the court is going to prioritise looking at housing needs out of that capital before looking at secondary needs, for example private education.

It is possible to agree the arrangements for finances, but this agreement must be  enshrined in a consent order, which is a document setting out the terms of the financial settlement which will be approved by a judge and made enforceable once the decree of divorce is finalised.

If the parties agree, the court can make an order for child maintenance.  However, after 12 months from the date of that order it is possible for either party to apply to the Child Maintenance Service for an assessment of child maintenance. This assessment will then supersede the amount set out in the court order.

It is usually the case that the court on divorce will have one eye on what would have happened if the parents were unmarried and what the Child Maintenance Service liability would be.

The court can also make an order for the payment of private education costs and this is usually expressed as a separate child maintenance order, but which is payable directly to the school.

Most child maintenance orders will last until the children are 18 or complete secondary education. But one issue which will need to be decided during the course of the divorce is whether or not the child maintenance should extend into tertiary education (to the end of an undergraduate degree or beyond) and whether it will include a gap year or not. It is often the case that the parent who has care of the children will receive a proportion of the child maintenance by way of what is known as a “roofing allowance” to cover the cost of the children out of the university term time during the long university vacations.