At exam times we are regularly asked - when does financial support end? This question is asked by both custodial and non-custodial parents.
Tense teenagers and anxious parents are thinking about important qualifications. Good results can secure places at colleges and universities - but that can lead to worries about the cost of further education and how to protect children from debt.
Separated and divorced parents should not make the mistake of thinking that they only have an obligation to pay for their child until the age of either 16 or 18. The law is that both parents have a responsibility to financially support their child until his/her 25th birthday if the child is still being educated or is training for employment, or for a trade or profession. In Scotland, beyond the age of 19, the Child Support Agency has no role to play, and the formula used by them does not apply. The claim can no longer be made by a parent for a child. It is up to the student to make the claim against his/her parent, and to first of all establish 'need'. Rightly or wrongly, the courts have indicated that in any claims brought by a child against a parent, consideration will be given not only to income available to a student by way of grant or bursary, but also to the student's ability to find part time work or to access a student loan.
Once it is clear that there is a need for financial support, the focus is on each parent's resources. If one parent provides accommodation and food that can be treated as support in non-monetary terms and the obligation they have may be deemed to be fulfilled, either completely or partly. But if a court has to determine the matter, both parents (custodial and non-custodial) will have to produce full details of their income and expenditure.
The most difficult decision for a student to make is whether to initiate a claim for support from a parent who seems unwilling to contribute. If the matter cannot be resolved amicably, the parent/child relationship will be damaged, perhaps irrevocably. The child and each parent require independent and careful advice.
Get in touch with our experienced family team if you'd like to discuss your personal circumstances further.