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Although it may be temporary situation, if you are a Spouse who has been left with little or no money following separation, it may be possible to apply for maintenance. That said if you find you have become a lone parent, it is quite common, that you may find yourself reliant on welfare benefits on a more permanent basis after a marital breakdown. 
Here are some of the most common questions our Divorce Solicitors in Preston are asked about entitlement to benefits following a relationship breakdown: 

Am I eligible for benefits even though we weren’t married? 

When it comes to eligibility for welfare benefits, cohabiting couples are treated in the same way as a married couple or those living together as civil partners. 

Am I eligible for child benefit? 

Child benefit is a weekly sum payable in respect of each child or young person under the age of 16 or qualifying young person under the age of 20 and it is paid to the person responsible for maintaining said child or young person. Child benefit is paid irrespective of your income and is non-taxable. Nonetheless, an income tax will apply to a taxpayer whose income exceeds £500,000 pa, who receives child benefit or whose partner receives child benefit. As a result, child benefit claimants may elect not to receive child benefit to which they are entitled if they or their partner do not wish to pay the tax charge. 

Am I eligible for Income Support? 

Income support has largely been replaced by jobseeker’s allowance or universal credit but income support is still available for, amongst others, lone parents who are looking after a child or children under the age of 5 and lone parents under the age of 18. Those with children above that age will be expected to apply instead for jobseekers allowance and look for work. 

Contact our Family Law specialists 

What are passport benefits? 

Income support is often referred to as a “passport” to other benefits because in circumstances where the claimant is claiming income support they will automatically be entitled to other benefits such as: 
a) Free school meals 
b) Exemption from NHS charges for prescriptions 
c) Healthy Start Food vouchers 
d) Funded early education 
e) Full housing benefit 
These passport benefits can often be quite valuable for those who need them and it will be important that these are considered when negotiating maintenance payments. You will often find that your family law solicitor will counsel that it is unwise to accept an offer of maintenance which is just sufficient to take you off income support as the value of these benefits will be lost. 

Can I claim working tax credit and child tax credit? 

Working tax credits are administered by HMRC but they are not credits against tax and are payable whether or not the claimant has taxable income. For family matters the working tax credit consists of the following elements: 
a) Basic element; payable to all qualifying claimants 
b) Couple and lone parent elements; payable to qualifying claimants who are members of a couple or who are loan parents 
c) 30-hour elements; payable to qualifying claimants working 30 or more hours per week 
d) Childcare costs: for one child 70% of the weekly cost of childcare up to £175 per week; for two or more children 70% of the weekly cost childcare up to £300 
Child tax credit is paid to the parent who has main responsibility for the child(ren) and is not split between the carers. 
Other help is available by way of discretionary housing payments, maternity grants, funeral expenses payments and winter fuel payments to name but a few and it is important that you have a Family Law representative who is experienced and aware of the help available to you when you are going through a separation. If you are in a position where you need Family Law advice call MG Legal on 01524 581306 or email
Further details about current benefits available can be found in the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook (Child Poverty Action Group) 2020/2021
MG Legal - Your Local Solicitors 
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