News has broken that ‘marriage-shy’ Simon Cowell is allegedly about to become a father for the first time. The mother of his unborn child, rumoured to be Lauren Silverman, is currently married to one of Cowell’s closest friends, although it is said that her husband has recently filed for divorce.
As the baby was conceived during her marriage, even if they are divorced at the time of the birth, under the law of England and Wales the presumption will be that Lauren’s husband is the father unless she declares otherwise.
If they are still married at the time, Lauren or her husband can register the baby’s birth and only her husband can be named as the baby’s father on the certificate. If, however, it is accepted by Lauren and her husband that Simon Cowell is the father, then as an unmarried father, he can only have his name inserted on the birth certificate if he attends the registration of the birth and gives his consent.
In the event that there is a dispute as to who is the father, this can only be established by testing DNA samples taken from all three adults and the baby.
Assuming that Simon Cowell is the father and is named on the birth certificate, he will then share parental responsibility with Lauren. This means that he will share with Lauren all the same rights, duties, powers and responsibilities in relation to the child and will have an entitlement to be consulted and share in the important decisions that need to be made with reference to his/her upbringing and welfare.
Cowell is, of course, one of the wealthiest men in the entertainment industry and if it were to become necessary, and the baby is his child, Lauren could apply for child support from the Child Support Agency for a percentage of his income based on a standard formula. This formula currently takes into account the father's net income, any other children he has care of, and how many nights the child will have contact with him. On the basis that Simon Cowell has no other children that we know of, the formula would be 15% of his net weekly income for one child.*
However, such maintenance is capped at a maximum income of £2,000 per week. 15% of £2,000 per week does not seem fair in a case where Simon Cowell is the father as his income will exceed this significantly. Cue Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 which allows a parent, (including a mother not married to the father of the child as in this case) to apply to Court for top up maintenance for the benefit of the child. The range of powers available to the Court go further than this; allowing Lauren to apply for a property adjustment order (that an appropriate property Simon owns be transferred into her name), or a lump sum order. The mother would need to bear in mind that the transfer of property may be on terms which means that the property would need to be returned to Simon once the child was no longer dependent.
The principles used to decide what is appropriate by the Court will depend on a number of factors but will include the mother and the child's needs and the available resources. Where a very wealthy man like Simon Cowell is concerned; the standard of living the child could expect would be considered a relevant circumstance as the resources to be made available should reflect the social and financial position of the carer and the parent.
Of course this article assumes that the Law of England and Wales applies, but with the jet set lifestyle of Simon Cowell, the amount of time he spends in the States and the fact that he has apparently engaged American lawyers, that is unlikely to be the case here.
* It could be that an alternative agency may soon be taking over as a new formula based on gross income is currently being piloted in cases with two or more children with the same parents known as The Child Maintenance Service.