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New Clause—(Continuance Of Payments For Maintenance Of Children In Certain Cases)

Volume 466: debated on Friday 24 June 1949

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(1) The power of the court to vary an order made by virtue of section one of the Married Women (Maintenance) Act, 1920, shall, notwithstanding anything in that section, include power to vary the order in accordance with the following provisions of this section.

(2) If, upon the application of the married woman, it appears to the court that a child for whose maintenance provision is made by the order is or will be engaged in a course of education or training after attaining the age of sixteen years and that it is expedient for that purpose that the payments required by the order should continue, the court may by order direct that those payments shall continue for such period after the child attains that age, not exceeding two years from the date of the order, as may be specified in the order.

(3) The period specified in an order made under the foregoing provisions of this section may from time to time be extended by a subsequent order made thereunder, but shall not be extended beyond the date when the child attains the age of twenty-one.—[ Mr. Asterley Jones.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

1.35 p.m.

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

Under the law as it stands, no power is conferred upon courts of summary jurisdiction to order payments to be continued in respect of a child after the age of 16, but in the Standing Committee it was represented strongly that this causes a considerable amount of injustice because such a child may well be continuing, either at school or in some other form, further education after 16, and will, therefore, require maintenance to some considerable degree after that age. It appeared to the Committee to be most unfair that the father of such a child should be able to escape all liability for maintenance after that age. The Clause proposes that it shall be possible for application to be made to the court. Specific application is necessary where the child will be engaged in a course of educational training. It makes it possible for the court to order that payments in respect of the child shall be continued after the age of 16.

The question arises, how long after the age of 16 should these payments be continued? It appeared that it was a reasonable safeguard, first, to lay down that extension should not be for more than two years at one time, and that a further application should have to be made to the court after two years or, possibly, less, and that in no event should payments continue after the age of 21. Some Members believed that payments should continue after 21, it being represented that the training of a medical student, for instance, continues after that age, but we have to make a limit somewhere and I suggest that 21 is a reasonable limit and that the Clause will be a means of alleviating the conditions of a substantial number of victims where these circumstances arise.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.