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ANCILLARY RELIEF DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS - CHILDREN

Ancillary relief divorce proceedings are governed by section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (as amended) which sets out the basic guidelines which in divorce law UK courts apply in deciding ancillary relief claims (ie property and maintenance matters) in the context of divorce and the following attempts to explain the individual factors in more detail. In cases where there are dependent children under the age of eighteen the opening words of the section may be very important indeed and they explain why the custody of children may be a very important factor in ancillary relief:-

"It shall be the duty of the court in deciding whether to exercise its powers ..... to have regard to all the circumstances of the cases, first consideration being given to the welfare while a minor of any child of the family who has not attained the age of eighteen."

In cases where there are dependent children who are under the age of eighteen the courts are required to give first consideration to the welfare of such children in deciding financial issues between their parents on divorce. This is not to say that the welfare of any dependent child is the only or, indeed, the paramount consideration in deciding financial matters between the parents. Nevertheless, it is something to which the courts look first in cases where there are such children and its impact can be very important. Divorce advice for men must always take this into account.

A dependent child is likely to have two main needs withn the context of divorce ancillary relief - one to be maintained and the other to have a home. Naturally, therefore, the courts will look carefully to see whether the parent who has day to day custody of the child has sufficient income to bring the child up. This will be relevant in cases where the court orders maintenance payments by the non custodial parent.

The child will need a home. The parent with whom the child lives most of the time will inevitably benefit from this but the need is that of the child. In very many cases a young child will live with his/her mother who will continue to live in the matrimonial home because no other options are practical. Although there are a number of ways of dealing with this situation - for instance, the courts may order that the house be sold when the child has ceased to be dependent and the proceeds divided equally between both parents at that point - one of the more common outcomes is that the matrimonial home is ordered to be transferred into the sole name of the wife. The need of the child for a home is a significant factor in explaining such decisions.

Do please continue to find out more about the legal principles behind ancillary relief divorce proceedings.

 
 

 
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Do please email if you have a specific query. Every case is different in divorce - especially in ancillary relief.