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Does your Ex have to pay maintenance if you weren’t married?

Does your Ex have to pay maintenance if you weren’t married?

Does your Ex have to pay maintenance if you weren’t married?

The short answer in practice is – “No”.  However if you have children, you can make use of The Children’s Act to access additional funds through the courts solely for the benefit of the children.

If you are lucky and your co-parent has a salaried job, then you are entitled to a % of his salary to help support the children.  If you are even luckier, he (or she if it’s dad who is the stay at home parent) you will not have to resort to the State help in persuading the other parent to help cover the costs of raising your now extended family.

But even if your Ex happily shares the statutory amount of his salary towards the costs of running a family, unless they are on an extremely good salary, the drop in income can be enormous and suddenly how are you going to pay the rent, the cost of school trips and uniforms, or afford a healthy diet for your kids?

What many solicitors may know about but have little experience in putting into action, is accessing The Children Act to request more funds through the courts.

Usually this is used by more wealthy families who have private school fees and extra-curricular activities so it would be unfair to deny the children what they have become used to simply because the main earner in the family is no longer living with the other parent.

But solicitor Nadia Beckett has made use of The Children Act to support a mother who was locked out of the family home by her Ex whilst she was in hostpital giving birth to their third child.  Her Ex changed the locks on the house – and because they were not married, she then had no legal rights to the property (her name wasn’t on the mortgage), no rights to his pension and no maintenance.

Because her Ex refused to participate in mediation (Nadia Beckett is a qualified mediator and also family arbitrator) Nadia took the unusual course of action and applied using The Children Act for more funds so that the mother would have some means to finance a home and running costs for the family, as she was literally left homeless and penniless by her Ex deciding to end the relationship so abruptly.

nadia beckett mediator, nadia beckett family arbitrator, family mediation london sw, cohabitation mediator CR, family arbitration CR, arbitration London SW, “There is provision under the Children Act for a parent of a child to make an application to the Court for financial provision for that child from the other parent.  This can include a lump sum payment to assist in the purchase of things for the child or a car to transport the child.  It can also include a settlement of property on a child for the duration of the child’s minority. 

Therefore, under the Children Act, a parent can be forced to provide a home for the child and the parent with care, although that property will revert to the said parent once the child reaches the age of 18. 

Any financial applications under the Children Act are solely for the child, not for the carer, although there is always likely to be an element of the carer’s costs included.  Provision can also be made for school fees and top-up orders where a child maintenance assessment (at the maximum level) is not enough to meet the child’s financial needs.”

Going to court is always an extreme action – it is expensive (though in this case Nadia will be applying for costs due to the nature of the case.  In a normal divorce scenario costs are rarely included in the judgement).  The time scale is many months, if not years.  There can be a great deal of stress and hardship along the way – even if the application is successful.

The fact is, if you don’t have a living together or cohabitation agreement in place and you are not married, you are opening yourself up to a whole lot of trouble if the relationship ends.  And many do end – sometimes in the abrupt and shocking way experienced by Nadia’s client.

If you know anyone living together with children, encourage them to create a Living Together Agreement.  They can download a free template RIGHT HERE

Suzy Miller

Alternative Life Guide

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