Legal News

Transatlantic Child Maintenance Storm Breaks Over One-Day-Old Baby

Some relationships sadly do not survive the prospect of impending parenthood and that can result in children being born into the teeth of a legal storm. In one case, a little girl was only one day old when she became the subject of child maintenance proceedings on both sides of the Atlantic.

The girl's British mother met her American father whilst she was living in New York. He was a remarkably wealthy man with assets valued at about $130 million and an income of about $900,000 a month. They lived an extremely affluent lifestyle and discussed marriage, to the point where he formally asked her father for her hand.

The relationship, however, swiftly deteriorated after she became pregnant and she returned to the UK without giving prior notice to the father. He asserted, but she denied, that it was her profligate spending and liberal use of his credit card that placed an irredeemable strain on the relationship.

The father launched proceedings in the US and the mother did the same in the UK when their daughter was one day old. Disputes between them ensued on matters including the Christian name the girl should be given, whether the father should appear on her birth certificate and whether she should bear the surname of her mother or her father or a hyphenated combination of both.

The father, however, did not dispute his parenthood, that his daughter was habitually resident in this country and that the English courts thus had jurisdiction to consider child maintenance issues. Negotiations in that respect had continued for a time but ultimately came to nought. In those circumstances, the mother sought pre-trial financial orders against the father.

Ruling on the case, the High Court did not accept all of the mother's financial claims. However, it directed the father to pay more than £150,000 towards her legal costs, £70,000 in interim financial support for his daughter, a £15,000 deposit on a rented flat, the cost of employing a nanny and other expenses. The Court noted that the mother had given promising indications that she was willing to engage in settlement negotiations on all matters relating to her daughter's welfare.

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