Q&As

Over ten years ago, provision was made by an undertaking within a financial order for the paying party to pay child maintenance to the parent with care until the child reached the age of 18, ceased full time education up to a first degree level, or further order. The child ceased education and is now in paid employment but is considering attending university. If the child re-commences their education, can the undertaking for child maintenance be reactivated?

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Produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 19/08/2020

The following Family Q&A produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Over ten years ago, provision was made by an undertaking within a financial order for the paying party to pay child maintenance to the parent with care until the child reached the age of 18, ceased full time education up to a first degree level, or further order. The child ceased education and is now in paid employment but is considering attending university. If the child re-commences their education, can the undertaking for child maintenance be reactivated?

An undertaking is a solemn promise to the court that a party do or not do something. A breach of an undertaking may be enforced by an application for committal. Breach of an undertaking is therefore a serious matter. See Practice Note: Enforcement of undertakings.

It is not uncommon for a party in financial remedy proceedings to give an undertaking relating to the payment of child maintenance. This is because notwithstanding any order for child maintenance made by the court, this may be superseded by an assessment by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) after the elapsing of 12 months (per section 4(10)(aa) of the Child Support Act 1991). The addition of an undertaking to the order means that the obligation to pay the agreed amount subsists regardless of any CMS assessment, on the basis that the undertaking could be enforced by an application for committal.

It is therefore important to ensure that the terms of any undertaking are carefully drafted. The usual triggers for the ending of a child maintenance provision wil

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