Can A Child Apply For Financial Support In Their Own Right?

child financial support
Can A Child Apply For Financial Support In Their Own Right?

Are the family courts authorised to grant a child’s request for a pecuniary order against his or her parents? The brief answer is yes, but only in specific situations. This section describes how a child was able to submit such an application in one particular instance.

In the novel case FS v. RS and JS [2020] EWFC 63, ‘children’ were permitted to make such an application. In that case, the circumstances involved an adult “child.” The applicant (41 years old) was a law school graduate and licenced attorney, but he had not worked since 2011 due to mental health issues. At the time of his application, the applicant was pursuing additional education in London. The applicant’s parents historically provided him with financial assistance by allowing him to reside in their London property with all outgoings paid for; these circumstances changed, however, when the applicant’s relationship with his parents deteriorated and their financial assistance was reduced.

The applicant petitioned the court, asserting that his parents had “cultivated his dependence” on them financially and that their withdrawal of assistance would leave him destitute. His application to the court was based on three statutes: a) Section 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act, b) Schedule 1 of the Children Act of 1989, and c) the Court’s power to protect vulnerable individuals with the mental capacity to make their own decisions (under its inherent jurisdiction).

In the end, the court determined that it lacked the authority to issue a financial support order under the circumstances of this case, but it considered the circumstances under which such an application could be brought by a minor.

Section 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973

Section 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act allows the court to make financial provisions when one spouse has failed to support the other spouse or a “child” of the family. In this situation, a child aged 16 or older may petition the court, but only if one of their parents has previously petitioned the court (against the other parent) for a periodic payments order in the child’s favour.

Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989

In accordance with Schedule 1, children over the age of 18 may file a claim against their parent, provided:

The child is or will be pursuing a higher education, a trade, profession, or vocation; or There are exceptional circumstances that justify the order.
The court ruled against the appellant on the issue of higher education because the judge determined that “common sense and practice would indicate that these provisions were never intended to be used and cannot be used to fund the education of a perpetual student.”

‘Special circumstances’ are not defined and are ultimately at the court’s discretion, but a number of cases provide examples of what may qualify as ‘special.

T v. S [1994]: a physical or mental impairment.
C v. F [1998]: where a child was gravely disabled and would be dependent on another individual for the remainder of his or her life.
In general, the courts believe that a parent’s financial obligation to their child ends at the age of 18 and that the child is no longer dependent upon them when they complete their education. Only in one of the limited circumstances outlined above may an adult offspring make a financial provision request against their parent.

Avatar of DLS Solicitors by DLS Solicitors
2nd October 2023
Avatar of DLS Solicitors
DLS Solicitors

Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

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