Child maintenance and tertiary education

As many parents will be aware, A-Level Results Day is fast approaching on 17th August. For many of those students awaiting their results, they may also be persistently refreshing the UCAS website on the same day. This is most definitely an anxious time for all students, but it may also cause many parents to pause and consider the costs of their child’s tertiary education.

Universities charge circa £9,250 a year for an undergraduate degree and alternative options such as student finance, bursaries and scholarships are not always suitable options. Furthermore, payments such as child maintenance under the Child Maintenance Service usually come to an end when your child finishes full-time non-advanced education (such as A Levels). Child benefit also stops following A Level education (or at 16 if your child did not remain in full time education). With the loss of these payments, it is understandable why many parents will be concerned at the prospect of who will be meeting the costs of their child’s tertiary education.

Quite often, a maintenance provision throughout tertiary education can be agreed and contained within a financial consent order upon divorce. However, such arrangements are not always affordable for the paying parent and disagreements can be reached if one parent does not feel that the payments are a necessity. It is therefore essential that advice is sought as to the amount which will be paid and when the maintenance will stop (for example, once your child has reached first degree level).

Alternatively, unmarried couples can seek maintenance from the other (for the benefit of the children) under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. However, it is important to note that a Court can only consider a Schedule 1 application if your child is under the age of 18 at the time of the application being made. All is not lost though, an adult child who is already in education may apply directly to the Court for financial support from one or both parents (as long as the parties are not residing together). If your child is considering attending University or higher education, you should seek advice as soon as possible.

Our solicitors here at Lux have considerable experience in providing detailed and knowledgeable advice regarding the costs of tertiary education whether it forms part of a financial consent order on divorce or as part of a Schedule 1 application.  If you share any of the above concerns ahead of A Level Results Day, please contact us on 02920 197203 to speak to one of our expert family law solicitors.