The Times

September 16 1999

Children 'could sue parents for share of income'

BY ALEXANDRA FREAN, SOCIAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
The Times

CHILDREN could have the right to sue their parents for 15 per cent of the family income once they turn 18 if the Government's proposals to reform the Child Support Agency go through unamended.

The Family Law Bar Association said yesterday that the Government could inadvertently be creating a new right for all children to share in their parents' wealth that went far beyond anything ministers had originally intended.

Nicholas Mostyn, QC, from the association, told MPs that there was a serious flaw in proposals to replace the current complex child-support formula with a simple flat rate, requiring all absent parents to pay 15 per cent of their income in maintenance for an only child, 20 per cent for two and 25 per cent for three or more children. Giving evidence to the Commons Social Security Select Committee, Mr Mostyn said that it was "utter folly" to impose no maximum on the amounts that could be paid.

"The Government's justification for having no maximum can be summarised in the single sentence: children have a right to share in the income of their parents."

But he said: "Children have no such right. They may have an expectation, and the empirical reality is that in most cases they do, but they have no such right. Their only right is to be maintained.

"Will this right entitle a child who has lived in an intact family to seek, on attainment of majority, an account of the sums expended for his benefit, and payment to him of any surplus?"

Copyright 1999, Times Newspapers Ltd.