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It is obviously right that fathers should pick up a fair share of the tab for raising their offspring, but exactly how deep into their pockets should they be made to dig? The High Court tackled that issue in considering whether a wealthy father should be required to cover the cost of employing a nanny for his toddler.
The father, a very high earner, was able to pay any sum he might be ordered to towards his child's maintenance. He agreed to provide the child's mother with a £1.35 million housing fund and to pay her £8,000 a month. He would also provide her with a car and pay their child's school fees.
The mother, however, was not satisfied by that provision. She argued that the father should, amongst other things, additionally pay £48,900 a year in childcare costs, including the £3,000 monthly expense of employing a nanny. Following a hearing, her arguments in that respect were rejected by a judge.
The judge observed that it might be thought that the financial package agreed to by the father would satisfy all claims that could be made on behalf of such a young child. He took a very dim view of the mother's evidence, describing the level of her expenditure on a nanny, holidays and shopping as reminiscent of someone who had won the football pools.
Challenging his ruling, however, the mother argued that her health difficulties meant that she was in need of respite from childcare duties. Engaging a nanny would allow her to rebuild her career so that she could work towards financial independence by the time the father's monetary support for their child came to an end.
Upholding her appeal, the Court noted that she would not have any assistance with childcare from the father. She had not lived independently of her own family before and her health difficulties, although not very severe, had to be taken into account. Given the extent of the father's wealth, it was not unreasonable for her to require some form of extraneous childcare.
The Court ordered the father to pay an additional £1,386 a month in respect of childcare costs until the child reaches the age of five. Thereafter, the monthly sum will reduce to £1,040 a month until the child is 11. From then onwards, there was no basis for requiring him to make further childcare provision. The mother's challenge to other aspects of the judge's ruling failed.