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Non-resident mother fails in bid for maintenance order

The former partner of a successful musician has failed in her bid for maintenance after their daughter moved to live with her father.

In N v C, the girl, now 12, had been living with her mother but went to live with her father after her relationship with her mother ran into difficulties. The former couple then agreed that she would continue living her father for the foreseeable future but the mother would also see the girl regularly.

The mother then applied for a maintenance order under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. She sought a lump sum payment of £200,000 for complete refurbishment of the home she was living in – a property owned by the musician, as well as monthly maintenance payments of £2,200. She was also wanted the father to pay all educational expenses and to put the property in trust until the daughter turned 18 or completed university education.

The father refused, offering only £10,000 and saying she could continue living in the home for another six months only. He insisted that the mother was capable of earning a reasonable salary and argued that the court had no jurisdiction to order maintenance in the circumstances.

The court agreed. Sitting in the Family Division of the High Court, Judge Hayward Smith QC said the mother was capable of supporting himself and had turned down a number of reasonable financial proposals by the father before the court hearing. These included a much higher offer of £75,000 and permission to remain the home until the child reached 18, something she now sought as part of her court demands.

The Children Act 1989 did not allow ‘non-resident’ parents (those not living with the child) to claim maintenance, the judge declared. The mother had clearly been seeking money for herself and not their daughter, he added.

The father was only obligated to provide for his daughter and was not required to support the mother separately when she lived elsewhere and was capable of supporting herself. Her claim was dismissed.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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