Question about maintenance

(62 Posts)
vieniqua Sat 16-Mar-13 18:08:21

I have a question about when maintenance is paid until?

Is it when the kids are 18? Or is it until they have finished university, even if this is well into their 20's?

Also what does the law say, and what is the tendency (ie. to keep paying even if they don't legally have to?)

I am completely clueless, so any answers are gratefully received!

theredhen Tue 19-Mar-13 21:21:51

If the pwc wants to get funny, they could certainly go to the CSA if the maintenance wasn't paid directly to them. If they're already going through CSA, they would be chased as normal by the CSA.

I also think its worth remembering that a 16 yr old at college will still be living at home and will still be eating/using heating/phone/tv etc so I do think its fair the pwc gets the money.

Most fair pwc would spend their maintenance in the kids and the kids home and transport.

When they go to Uni and are no longer living at home, then I think that's a very different issue.

mumandboys123 Tue 19-Mar-13 22:02:27

you can do it if the PWC is in agreement. Otherwise, they can just go to the CSA and you will have to pay that way.

allnewtaketwo Wed 20-Mar-13 06:11:46

A fairly likely outcome is that, say you pay £250 per month direct to the student at college when previously you have paid via CSA, PWC could go to CSA and you could be issued with demand for repayment to PWC. CSA wouldn't care if you'd already paid the child direct

Mendi Wed 20-Mar-13 09:03:19

Petal02's advice is incorrect. It is possible for a child to successfully sue the NRP for financial support through uni. I'm a lawyer.

However, the merit of such a claim is highly fact-specific and in case like that of your DP, where there had been no contact for years and your DP is not wealthy, it's perhaps unsurprising that the claim was not successful (though I am shock at your 'crafty little madam' comment).

In a case where the NRP was very wealthy and had other children being educated privately/at university, the Court would be more likely to take the view that the child should enjoy the same standards.

Petal02 Wed 20-Mar-13 09:13:45

Mendi, I disagree with your comments. When we found out the DSD was taking legal advice, we sought advice of our own. And were told that under British law such a claim would never be successful (regardless of DH’s bank balance) because no parent is ever legally obliged to make gifts to their adult children. There’s a slight caveat if a child is severely ill or disabled, but other than that, the advice was quite clear – no adult has a legal entitlement to a gift from another adult.

And as for the “crafty madam” comment – DSD practically disowned her father years ago, and then decides to attempt to sue him for support through University. I think “crafty madam” is quite a mild comment. It’s certainly far milder than the expression DH used. Which would get moderated if I posted it here.

DSS starts Uni in September, we’re happy to support him financially.

pinkbraces Wed 20-Mar-13 11:24:28

My DD started Uni last year - her Dad (my exH) supports her directly, which is, I think how most people do it. I support her as well.

Petal are you saying that your DSS is using his mothers income to claim for extra grants etc, as its a low income family but your DH is able to support him?

Surely thats just wrong - if you can afford to support him why is he claiming for extra support through the loan/grant system. My understanding is the extra help is for students whose parents are unable to support them.

Petal02 Wed 20-Mar-13 11:35:59

Pinkbraces – I see what you’re saying; because DSS lives at his mother’s address, which is a low income household, when he puts in his grant application, he will state the household income, which will entitle him to full grant.

DH and I decided that once we stop paying maintenance to the ex, we’ll redirect the money (and top it up a bit) to DSS, to pay towards his Uni expenses. We’re not trying to do anything fraudulent. I suppose it’s rather like a child in a ‘together’, low income, household being given additional support from a friend/relative/sponsor. You give the details of house in which you live and surely anything extra that comes your way is a bonus?

Not sure how else you would do it?

allnewtaketwo Wed 20-Mar-13 11:58:24

"Petal are you saying that your DSS is using his mothers income to claim for extra grants etc, as its a low income family but your DH is able to support him?

Surely thats just wrong - if you can afford to support him why is he claiming for extra support through the loan/grant system. My understanding is the extra help is for students whose parents are unable to support them"

But doesn't that logic apply to other sorts of benefits/grants available to people? So for example benefits and tax credits disregard child maintenance received by a pwc. Applying your argument, these pwc's should pay some of this back to the government.

pinkbraces Wed 20-Mar-13 13:52:26

"But doesn't that logic apply to other sorts of benefits/grants available to people? So for example benefits and tax credits disregard child maintenance received by a pwc. Applying your argument, these pwc's should pay some of this back to the government. "

No of course not, the current loan system relies on parents supporting their children (if they are able to) through Uni, I dont agree with it, but thats how it is. When my DD filled out her student loan form she took based it upon the income of my ex husband and I, although her main home is with me.

It has no similarities to a sponsor or friend helping out - Petals husband is the father, not a friend or sponsor, and his support shouldnt be a bonus.

I suppose its not fraudulent, just seems very wrong.

purpleroses Wed 20-Mar-13 13:57:50

pinkbraces - from my understanding of the system - what your DD did was (though possibly well-intentioned) actually fraudulent. Student loan system asks about the student's household, not their parent they don't live with. Some people (like me) will have a DP who earns a lot more than the DC's actual father - so if we could pick and choose my DCs would be much better off if they could have student loans based on incomes of me and their dad, rather than me and my DP. But they can't.

The system may be wrong, but the only correct way to apply for student support is to give the information they ask for, not the information you think that it should morally be based on.

Petal02 Wed 20-Mar-13 14:08:06

The system may be wrong but the only correct way to apply for student support is to give the information they ask for, not the information you think that it should be morally based on

I can’t argue with that. DSS is asked to provide the household income of the house he lives in. Not that of any houses where he doesn’t. Also, whilst we’re happy to support him at Uni, we can’t afford to pay all his expenses (heaven forbid!), so we’ll pay his accommodation, and help with out with ad hoc costs, then he’ll have to rely on this grant, and get a part time job, to make ends meet. I think this is the case with most students.

So ironically if he were to apply for a grant using our household income, he wouldn’t get anything, even though we can’t afford to bank-roll his studies completely.

So it seems to be working out in DSS’s best interests.

allnewtaketwo Wed 20-Mar-13 14:11:59

""But doesn't that logic apply to other sorts of benefits/grants available to people? So for example benefits and tax credits disregard child maintenance received by a pwc. Applying your argument, these pwc's should pay some of this back to the government. "

No of course not"

Why of course not? The system has to assume that the maintenance isn't being received. So actually the pwc in receipt of maintenance is receiving more benefits than they would be entitled to if the system was working equitably (i.e. everyone receiving cm who is due, and thus those payments being taken into account for benefits purposes). The pwc in this example, in receipt of cm and benefitting from the disregard. Just as the student in this example is "benefitting" from the grant rules being the way they are.

Petal02 Wed 20-Mar-13 14:14:30

You're right Allnew

ladydeedy Wed 20-Mar-13 14:37:39

We are in the situation that DH signed a court order and agreed to pay maintenance for his children until they finish "fulltime education" potentially up until age 23 according to the order!

(Clearly I was not with DH at the time otherwise would have advised against such madness although he was pressurised and stressed out at the time...). And the money is to be paid to ex, not to the children. She would never ever agree for it to be paid direct to the child.

Since the divorce and court order, one child has moved to live with us so the agreement with respect to him is no longer valid, although exw is trying to get him to move back with her so that she can claim the money when he goes to uni as he will be "based" with her although living at uni).

My DH earns an average wage, whereas I am the higher earner and therefore when the DSS who lives with us goes on to uni, it is my salary (along with DH's) that will be taken into account when it comes to calculating grants etc.

Petal02 Wed 20-Mar-13 14:41:45

Maintenance up to the age of 23????? Scary stuff!!! I assume your DH can stop paying if the "child" leaves uni before age 23?

ladydeedy Wed 20-Mar-13 14:57:12

Yes if they do leave...
At the moment one has retaken (with mother's encouragement) a year of sixth form, despite being not very academic, and is about to embark on a 4 year uni course...
We are in a slightly odd place because one DSS lives with us, the other with his mother. So no money changes hands as such, as they are "equal".
What will be interesting is, once the older one leaves uni, if the mother will reciprocate by giving DH a sum of money each month whilst younger DSS completes uni... I wont hold my breath on that one!!

LtEveDallas Wed 20-Mar-13 15:51:38

Has anyone known of a parent stop paying the ex maintenance when a child leaves school but to give the portion of maintenance direct to the child who is then going to college

We stopped paying DSD Mum when DSD was 15, and paid DSD direct from then on (I was actually paying her a proportion of it direct long before that, but for my own reasons). She is now at College (will be 18 this year) and we are still paying her direct. I believe that DH will want to stop paying her at 18, but I will probably continue to fund her somewhat - her opportunities for work where she is currently living are limited and I'd rather she concentrated on her college work and hopefully get a good job out of it.

Mendi Wed 20-Mar-13 16:03:31

You might disagree with me Petal02 but you are still wrong (and, I suspect, you are not a lawyer?). The advice you received may have been the correct advice in your circumstances but it is well established that a child over the age of 18 can sue a parent for maintenance through university. If there was a maintenance order in place before the child reached 18, then the means by which the adult child may apply for maintenance on her own account is to issue in the old divorce proceedings between her parents. Provided both parents are still alive (as in the case of your DH), this is possible. Alternatively, the mother/NRP can issue on behalf of the adult child under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989.

I recently read a thoughtful account of the development of the law in this area, which you might find interesting: Maintenance for adult children.

If you are really interested I'd also suggest you look at the 1976 case of Downing v Downing (Downing intervening) ([1976] Fam. 288), which established that the court absolutely has jurisdiction to hear an application by an adult child for maintenance through university. This was a case where BOTH the parents of the unfortunate child refused to maintain her at university. The following excerpt from the judgment is relevant:

'It is perhaps worthy of mention that an application of this kind would not be a unique instance of a child over 18 taking proceedings against its parents for maintenance. Where a maintenance order has been made under section 23 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 for payment to children and the father falls into arrears, the mother cannot herself take out a judgment summons to enforce the arrears because she is not the payee. If the children are minors, the wife or some other approved person will issue the judgment summons on the children's behalf as next friend, but, if the children are of full age, it would appear necessary for them to bring their own enforcement proceedings. This is the opinion of the editors of Rayden on Divorce, 12th ed. (1974), vol. 1, p. 884, with which I agree. Under section 12 (2) of the Guardianship of Minors Act 1971, where a person who has ceased to be a minor but has not attained the age of 21 has while a minor been the subject of an order for the payment of maintenance, he as well as the parent may apply to the court and the child may ask for an order requiring one or both of the parents to pay maintenance to the child himself. The provisions of section 12 replace section 4 (1) and (3) of the Family Law Reform Act 1969, and by section 6 of the Act of 1969 identical provisions are made in favour of wards of court, who may also in similar circumstances apply for orders against one or both of their parents.'

Some of the statutory provisions referred to in that excerpt have since been repealed, though they are replicated in codified statute that is now in force.

Advice which may have applied to your case is not one-size-fits-all.

Mendi Wed 20-Mar-13 16:10:45

You can also read this other thread on the same topic: earlier MN thread re maintenance for adult child through university

Libby10 Wed 20-Mar-13 16:20:13

DP and his ex agreed a financial order. Her solicitor wanted child maintenance to continue until the SC left full-time university (which seems to be a standard request). DP successfully argued that he had and would always continue to support his children but that he would do this directly when they were at university.

purpleroses Wed 20-Mar-13 16:24:21

I think you're talking about spousal maintenance, Mendi - so it's possible if there was an order made at the time of a divorce for it to include a clause about supporting adult children through university - or even if it doesn't, if it's still open a student child could get it changed to get some support.

But if there's a clean break divorce, or the parents were never married, then the only compulsory contribution from the NRP is child support (paid to the RP, and which stops when they finish A levels) and thereafter is voluntary, just as it is from the RP. Right?

Mendi Wed 20-Mar-13 16:33:42

No, not right. It's nothing to do with spousal maintenance: it is for the child, and hence if the child pursues the claim it will be paid to the child (not the PWC). It's simply that, from a procedural point of view, if the parents were married and there was a maintenance order made in the divorce proceedings, then the means by which the child can sue in her own right is to issue in the old divorce proceedings - re-open them, if you like, but for her own purposes rather than her mother's.

If the parents were not married then the PWC/mother can apply under Sch.1.

For a recent case about maintenance through university where the parents were never married, have a look at [[ http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed33456 Re N]]

Petal02 Wed 20-Mar-13 16:42:44

Mendi, no I’m not a lawyer. But when DSD sought legal advice (from a lawyer) she was told that she had no case so there was no point in trying; and when we also sought legal advice (also from a lawyer) the advice was quite clear: DH had nothing to worry about as a child can’t sue a parent for Uni support.

I don’t doubt that theoretical comments to the contrary exist, as per the links you’ve included, but in practice it doesn’t work. If it were possible, surely everyone would be trying it? And it’s starting to sound like a parent in a ‘together’ family couldn’t be sued for Uni support, yet in a separated family a NRP suddenly has a legal obligation to pay?

I’m just curious to know why DSD was told she had no case, when DH had the means to pay, but not the inclination. Please don’t think I’m being obtuse, if you’re a lawyer then you obviously know your stuff, but what you’re saying does appear to be at odds with our experience.

Mendi Wed 20-Mar-13 16:50:11

Petal02, I don't know the facts of your case so can only repeat that this sort of claim is very fact-specific and what applied in your case is not going to apply to all.

You should be very wary of dispensing quasi-legal advice on a forum such as this where people who may have meritorious claims may be dissuaded by your views, which are, however well-intentioned, only views germane to your own case.

As to your lawyer saying that it is never possible for such a claim to succeed, I'm sorry to say that there are bad lawyers out there. The line of authority that I've cited above makes it clear as day that adult children can claim financial provision from parents at university and indeed the same principle is repeated in paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 Children Act 1989.

Mendi Wed 20-Mar-13 16:52:02

Paragraph 2 Schedule 1:

Orders for financial relief for persons over eighteen
2

(1) If, on an application by a person who has reached the age of eighteen, it appears to the court—

(a) that the applicant is, will be or (if an order were made under this paragraph) would be receiving instruction at an educational establishment or undergoing training for a trade, profession or vocation, whether or not while in gainful employment; or

(b) that there are special circumstances which justify the making of an order under this paragraph,

the court may make one or both of the orders mentioned in sub-paragraph (2).

(2) The orders are—

(a) an order requiring either or both of the applicant's parents to pay to the applicant such periodical payments, for such term, as may be specified in the order;

(b) an order requiring either or both of the applicant's parents to pay to the applicant such lump sum as may be so specified.

(3) An application may not be made under this paragraph by any person if, immediately before he reached the age of sixteen, a periodical payments order was in force with respect to him.

(4) No order shall be made under this paragraph at a time when the parents of the applicant are living with each other in the same household.

(5) An order under sub-paragraph (2)(a) may be varied or discharged by a subsequent order made on the application of any person by or to whom payments were required to be made under the previous order.

(6) In sub-paragraph (3) “periodical payments order” means an order made under—

(a) this Schedule;

(b) . . .

(c) section 23 or 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973;

(d) Part I of the Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates' Courts Act 1978;

[(e) Part 1 or 9 of Schedule 5 to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (financial relief in the High Court or a county court etc);

(f) Schedule 6 to the 2004 Act (financial relief in the magistrates' courts etc),]

for the making or securing of periodical payments.

(7) The powers conferred by this paragraph shall be exercisable at any time.

(8) Where the court makes an order under this paragraph it may from time to time while that order remains in force make a further such order.

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