Posted by familylaw on 21st September 2022
Changing family dynamics – unmarried parents and the law

In this article we discuss what rights unmarried parents, the largest group of parents in the country, have to seek financial provision for their children on separation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the latest data shows 51.3 per cent of live births in 2021 were not to married couples – the first majority since records began in 1845.

This milestone has long been approaching, feasibly hastened by the disruption caused to many couples’ marriage plans during the pandemic but what are their options for financial support when they separate?

Child Support for unmarried parents

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) has exclusive jurisdiction to assess child support. More parents are sharing care on separation and if there is no clear primary the CMS will not accept an application for child support. Neither will the CMS assess where one parent/the child is resident overseas. When an assessment is made, it is based on the gross weekly income of the non-resident parent with a reduction for overnight stays.

The courts still have power to make child support orders by consent for up to 12 months or to top up a CMS assessment where the non-resident parent earns over £156,000 per annum gross.

Other financial provision for children

 On separation either parent can claim a lump sum and/or transfer property or a housing fund from the other for their children.   A lump must be based on the child’s capital needs, typically things like school fees and educational equipment, a reliable vehicle and medical treatment.

Property purchased or transferred as a home for the child typically reverts to the paying parent when the child no longer needs it. The court can extend the term on the case of children with long term care needs.

Unmarried parents also have various rights for themselves in relation to property owned jointly or where there are or were agreements between the partners which will be the subject of a later blog.

David is a specialist unmarried couple finance lawyer.

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