This morning I read an interesting article whilst eating my breakfast before work: Child Support Advice sought ‘over university costs’ in The Times Higher Education. It claims that more divorced mothers are seeking legal advice about whether ex-husbands can extend support payments for children at university. With tuition fees rising to £9,000 this year and with the likelihood of them rising again in the future, the argument is that parents are now having to support their children for longer periods as they struggle to work through university under heavy debts.
Currently child support continues until the child reaches the age of sixteen or the age of 20 if the child is in higher education, not higher than A-level. Whilst this does not help single parents facing the prospect of supporting a child through university, it is something that most single parents do not realise. Most single parents believe that child maintenance stops when the child finishes secondary school. This is obviously not the case and in addition courts do have the power to extend maintenance to the end of a child’s university degree or vocational training course. With the rise in tuition fees and the rise in the number of children going to university it is possible that we will see an exponential rise in cases of single parents applying to the court to vary/extend current maintenance payments in order to support their children through university. I know as a recently graduated student that I would have never made it through my degrees without my parents help, even with the student loans currently available. And so it begs the question of how the trend will develop and how common it will become for the court to vary/extend a child maintenance order to allow a single parent to support a child through university.
I will be keeping an eye on this as it develops; I imagine it will become somewhat of a permanent feature of family law in the not so distant future. In other news I hear that a colleague is about to tackle a marathon in aid of the Little LAMB Appeal. It is an appeal that was set up in aid of a little boy called Louie Jenkins who contracted Meningococcal Septicaemia in January 2012 aged just 5 months old. Louie sadly had to have both his leg amputated below the knee and also lost parts of his fingers on his left hand, 3 fingertips on the right and suffered skin damage to the bottom of his left arm. The charity not only aims to raise money to make the necessary adaptations to Louie’s home and for any equipment he may require but also to raise awareness of the signs, symptoms and conditions caused by Meningitis and Meningococcal Septicaemia. My colleague is a braver woman than me running a marathon as winter begins to set in and so I wish her all the luck in the world. In addition to this she promises to bring cakes into the Stowe Family Law LLP’s Harrogate office this week in order to raise some more money, I will definitely be purchasing in one or two of them.