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Child Maintenance and Financial Support

Maria Robinson

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

This is a highly complex area of the law and it is essential that advice is sought very early on, under or over paying could impact significantly on your case. The McAlister Family Law team have years of experience advising on all aspects of child maintenance issues.

Divorce settlement

For parents that are or have been married, financial provision for children will be taken into account as part of the divorce settlement. The needs of the children are the court’s paramount consideration. Refer to the finance and divorce page for further information.

Child Maintenance Service (CMS)

All parents have a responsibility to provide financially for their child even if they live apart from the child and the other parent. Child maintenance can make a significant difference to a child’s wellbeing and the quality of family relationships. Child maintenance is the regular, reliable financial support parents provide for their child when they separate. It can help towards a child's everyday living costs and give them the best start in life.

Child maintenance can be agreed voluntarily between parents. If an agreement cannot be reached, then an application can be made to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) – a government body that assesses one parent’s financial means and can make a mandatory requirement that he or she pays child maintenance to the other.

The amount of child maintenance that will need to be paid will depend on a number of factors. For further information visit the CMO website.

Schedule 1 Children Act 1989

Where the parents have not been married and the level of child maintenance is not possible or is insufficient, a claim can be made under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989. This act empowers the court to make one or more of the following financial orders:

  1. Child maintenance (in addition to the maximum maintenance as assessed currently by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission), which can include the cost of a nanny, school fees and, in some cases, the costs of university education; and
  2. A capital lump sum for costs directly referable to the child (for example, the purchase of a car or the costs of equipping the child's home); and
  3. A transfer or settlement of property for the purpose of providing a home for the child during their minority (which will mean that once the child completes their secondary or tertiary education, the property which was transferred or settled will be returned to the parent who funded or provided it).

When making a decision regarding the appropriate level of financial provision for the child, the Court considers the following:

  • The parent's respective financial resources
  • The parent's needs and other responsibilities, including to any other children
  • The financial requirements of the child
  • Any disabilities of the child
  • The parents' intentions as to the education of the child

The McAlister Family Law team are highly experienced in dealing with all child maintenance issues. Liz Cowell is a member of Resolution's Child Support Committee and can advise on all issues including CMS appeals.

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For a free no obligation consultation contact a member of the McAlister Family Law Team

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