Financial responsibilities of father on divorce11 Mar 2021 | Lisa Pepper
Table of Contents
What are the financial responsibilities of a father on divorce?
The period drama Bridgerton, the runaway success of the winter, has had viewers enthralled by a society where strict obligations and responsibilities see many of the characters living with an ever-present prospect of being forced into marriage to avoid the shame associated with being intimate outside of wedlock.
But how would a modern-day Marina Thompson, Featherington’s mysterious cousin, fare when seeking support for herself and her child and, if tricked into marriage, what would Colin Bridgerton’s obligations have been?
Lisa Pepper, a London divorce lawyer at the law firm Osbornes Law, considers how the courts would view the responsibilities of Marina’s lover and explains how, if Colin had married Marina, he would have found himself financially responsible for her child, even on divorce.
Lisa says, “Fathers have considerable financial obligations to their children, regardless of whether they intended a pregnancy. It doesn’t matter if they were unaware they had fathered a child or if the mother told them they were taking precautions and they think they were tricked. The law is focused on the best interests of the child.
In Marina’s case, she would have claims against her child’s father George Crane, had he lived to provide housing for Marina and her child, perhaps even providing her with a property to live in, paying rent or a mortgage. He would need to support his child until they left school or university.
For most men, that will mean they are obliged to give a minimum of around 9% of their gross salary. Still, for the wealthy earning over a £156k threshold, the child should be brought up in circumstances that reflect the father’s fortune and expenditure.
High earners are often surprised to learn that on top of accommodation costs. Maintenance budgets include school fees, a nanny, activities and clubs, sports clothes and equipment, holidays, private tuition or even riding lessons.”
In Marina’s quest to marry before her pregnancy becomes apparent, Colin Bridgerton is in the frame as a potential suitor. If a present-day Colin found out he was not the child’s father after he had taken his marriage vows and chose to divorce, he would still be financially responsible.
Lisa explains, “It would not matter that Colin was not the biological father. As part of the family, he would have responsibility for the child and Marina in the event of their divorce, as would a husband if their wife became pregnant with another man’s child during the marriage. In contrast, the same rules do not apply to unmarried couples, where support would be contingent upon the child’s relation.
Last year saw a case of a divorcing mother seeking maintenance payments for her child from her husband despite him not being their biological father. The judge ruled that he still had to pay school fees and child maintenance of £60k per year even though the child was not his. The mother was also free to pursue the child’s natural father for further payments.”
Similarly, Simon, the Duke of Hastings, would be fully responsible for his and Duchess Daphne’s future child, regardless of whether he consented to the pregnancy.
Lisa says, “An important principle of our family law system is that the child’s needs matter. Men may not realise their obligations and responsibilities for a child they did not plan for and its mother. The super-rich of today won’t be obliged to marry as regency society dictated, but the courts will consider a father’s earnings and wealth. If those are considerable, he should expect to provide a great deal for any child he fathers to ensure that they enjoy a similar standard of living to himself.”
In the final episode, we hear that George Crane died fighting in Spain. Today, as George’s son or daughter, Marina’s child would have a claim to his estate. If he died without a will, as George was unmarried, his estate would pass entirely to his children, and we assume this is his only child.
If he died having written a will, which presumably the child would not be included in, modern-day Marina would be able to make an Inheritance Act claim on her child’s behalf under the 1975 Inheritance Act, which allows wills to be disputed where a parent has made no provision in their will for their child.
Please fill in an online enquiry form for further advice on any family law matter and to speak with Lisa about your case.
Contact us today
For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811
Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you
Related InsightsVIEW ALL
Financial Remedy Order
It is common for disagreements to arise over the finances during a divorce, even if you are on good terms...Read more
What is a Final Order?
The introduction of no-fault divorces brought about a number of changes to the divorce process in England and Wales. One...Read more
What is Parental Alienation?
Sometimes, a child may turn against one of their parents due to the other parent’s manipulation or influence. This...Read more
My spouse is going bankrupt. Will it affect...
Bankruptcy is on the rise in the UK. In 2022, more than 1 in 10 businesses reported a moderate-to-severe risk of insolvency. More...Read more
What is Spousal Maintenance ?
Spousal Maintenance Spousal maintenance is a legal obligation to provide financial support to a former spouse after the marriage or...Read more
The 6 Most Common Reasons Why Couples Get Divorced
What are the most common reasons that couples get divorced? Following the UK’s transition to a no-fault divorce system,...Read more
What is a Conditional Order?
The introduction of no-fault divorces in England and Wales removed the need to assign blame for the breakdown of a...Read more
What is a consent order?
Most divorcing couples agree on how their finances will be divided without going to court. A consent order is what...Read more
Child Maintenance for High Earners
How much should be paid? When separating or divorcing parents cannot agree the amount of child maintenance to be paid, (...Read more
Family Dynamics: A Factor In Child Arrangements Cases
In proceedings involving children, the parents should consider the impact their behaviour towards each other may have on how the...Read more
Approving Consent Order In High Value Divorce Case...
The case of Bogolyubov v Bogolyubov The best course of action for divorcing couples is to agree on a financial...Read more
Does Divorce Jurisdiction Matter?
I am a family law practitioner with a large client following in England and in Gibraltar. I often have to...Read more
Breadwinner or homemaker in divorce. Does it matter?
Breadwinner vs Homemaker Divorce Rights When it comes to deciding how wealth is split in a divorce, English courts do...Read more
What is Parental Responsibility?
Understanding Parental Responsibility Parental responsibility is the legal term used to describe parents’ duties and responsibilities for their children. These...Read more
Are trusts protected from divorce?
Can trusts protect an inheritance from your spouse? A trust is a separate legal entity. Neither spouse owns its assets. ...Read more
Is a limited company protected from divorce?
Is my spouse entitled to half of my business? If you are involved in running a limited company, then it...Read more
How is a pension split in a divorce?
Pensions and Divorce In a divorce, pensions are taken into account together with all other financial assets. Once all assets...Read more
Who gets the house in a divorce?
How is a house divided in a UK divorce? For most people thinking about getting a divorce, one of the...Read more
Judge ignores pre-nuptial agreement but factors in non-matrimonial...
Case Law One of the reasons I am still passionate about family law, after 20 years in the field, is that...Read more
How to set aside an order in financial...
My ex-spouse didn’t tell the truth about their finances when we divorced, can anything be done? Can the financial...Read more
Pension sharing on divorce
What is the new procedure for pension sharing? Pensions are one of the biggest assets of a marriage, yet many...Read more
What is a transfer of equity?
Transfer of equity in divorce Transfer of equity refers to the process of transferring part or all of a property...Read more
Do You Have To Go To Court For...
If your divorce is uncontested and there are no disputes over issues such as what happens to the marital home...Read more
Capital Gains Tax on Divorce
Proposed Capital Gains Tax Rule Changes Could Reduce Stress for Divorcing Couples The government has proposed a number of changes...Read more