With the excitement of fresher's week around the corner, it raises the question of the financial obligations that parents have towards their children when they begin university.

It is relatively well known that where an individual is under the age of 16, or under the age of 20 (if they satisfy certain conditions) then the Child Maintenance Service can regulate maintenance in the absence of agreement between a child's parents. In calculating maintenance, the Child Maintenance Service will take into account the number of nights that a child stays with the non- resident parent. Maintenance is paid to the parent with whom the child is primarily resident.

However, the duty to provide financial support to a child continues when they go on to further education, with payments made directly to the child at that stage. In the event that payment is not forthcoming, it is open to that child to raise court proceedings against either or both parents. There is no set formula which is used to calculate the level of maintenance payable. Instead the court looks at the needs, resources and earning capacities of the parties and generally all of the circumstances in the case.

It may be that parents are considering the purchase of a flat for their child whilst they are at University. What happens if they do so, and down the line their son/daughter moves in their partner? It is important to bear in mind that since the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006, cohabitees (i.e. individuals who are living together as if they are husband and wife) have rights against one another in the event that their relationship breaks down. In order to protect offspring against a possible claim, it is sensible for the child to enter into an agreement with their partner regulating what will happen in those circumstances. This can make clear that the parties have no claim against the other in the event that they are to separate and provide for notice periods to vacate the property.

If you require advice about any of these issues, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team.


Rachael Noble

Senior Associate