What if there are children?

28 Nov 2019

Resolution’s members are family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes.

The annual Awareness Raising Week this year focuses on cohabitation. In the spirit of promoting this theme, the Trethowans family team are writing a series of short articles to assist couples either contemplating cohabitation or perhaps facing the breakdown of their relationship.

Yesterday we looked at relationship breakdown and what could happen in the absence of any agreement relating to a property in which a couple live together. Today, we delve slightly deeper into situations that involve children.

In addition to the potential claims discussed in yesterday’s article or as a stand alone application, a person may be able to make a claim under Schedule 1 of the Children Act to assist with property rights following a separation if they have children.

Where an unmarried couple have a child together, a person could potentially claim against the other for:

  1. Ongoing financial support (but only where the child maintenance service does not have jurisdiction to make an assessment)
  2.  A lump sum payment
  3. Settlement of a property
  4. Transfer of a property

The key limitation of claims made under this provision however is that you are only likely to receive settlement of a property on trust until the youngest child is no longer a minor, unless there are special circumstances, hence the occupation of a property can often be on “borrowed time” and can revert to the other person once a child reaches majority.

It is again important to consider your respective rights in property during the course of a relationship and if you have not discussed this with your partner previously it would be a good time to think about this if you were to have children together as the financial dynamic between you will likely change at this point to what you may have been used to previously.

Tomorrow we’ll do a final summary of things to consider when moving in with a partner and considering living together.