We have children together, but my partner has more money than me. What can I do? This will depend on whether the property you live in is in joint names or registered in your partner’s sole name. See The house isn’t in my name, we are unmarried. Do I have any rights? If the property is not in your name, there is another option to look at as an unmarried parent. This is Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989“Schedule 1”).
This allows parents to make applications for financial provision on behalf of and to benefit the child/children. If you do not own your family home and your partner does you could bring a claim under ToLATA as well as Schedule 1.
Under Schedule 1 you can apply to the Court to remain in the family home, for a lump sum to purchase a home for you and the child/children or periodical payments. Any award made under Schedule 1 is for the benefit of the child and not the adult making the claim (see below).
This is the same for a parent who does own a property jointly. It could be that one party wants the property sold but the other cannot afford to rehouse themselves (and the children) if that happens. This parent could ask to remain in the property until the youngest child is a certain age or ask that they have a greater share of the proceeds of sale to buy somewhere else.
Contrary to popular belief, a parent does not have an automatic right to remain in the family home until the youngest child is 18 or finishes full time education. This is an option, not a certainty. The Court would have to consider both parties’ financial situations, their housing needs and the age of the children. This is a delicate balance as once a relationship has ended both parties would wish to move on with their lives rather than have a financial tie for many years thereafter. Financial disclosure needs to be exchanged between the parties as a starting point.
If you apply for a greater share of the proceeds of sale over and beyond your legal entitlement, you must remember that this is not yours to keep. Most applications under Schedule 1 for a lump sum, etc are made on a temporary basis. It is for this reason that the applications are made on behalf of the child and to benefit the child. Once the child stops being a child, then the money or asset will revert back to the parent who originally owned that asset or money. You therefore need to consider whether it would be better for you to apply for an outright share of a property under ToLATA which you could keep or whether your immediate need to house you and your children is greater. This will need careful consideration and a specialist solicitor can discuss all of these options with you.
The case is conducted in a similar way to financial proceedings during a divorce. Parties will be required to provide extensive information regarding their income, assets and debt with supporting documentation. Schedule 1 claims can often take 12 months or more to conclude to a final hearing. There is no legal aid for these types of cases and the costs can reach in excess of £40,000. This will inevitably reduce the resources of the parties to house themselves so careful consideration needs to be given before taking court action. Significant efforts are made by solicitors to try to settle these disputes through correspondence and mediation.
Want to know more – listen to our podcast number 5 on our series A Journey Through Separation.