I am a US national and have been living in the UK with my 10-year-old daughter while she is at school. I hold a visa for parents of a child student; my daughter holds a child student visa. However, I have learnt that while my daughter can stay in the UK after her 12th birthday, I cannot. She will have to board. It was always our intention that she should board, returning home for the weekend. I have a second child, aged two. Is there any flexibility with this visa, or can I explore other routes to allow me to stay?
Naomi Goldshtein, a director at law firm Fragomen, says the child student route is primarily designed for those studying away from the family home. Many families, like yourself, find the limitations attached to the permitted living arrangements of this visa very frustrating.
There are a number of permitted living arrangements that can be considered for a child studying, but where they are deemed too young to enter boarding school arrangements, the UK does allow one parent to accompany the child to the UK using a “parent of a child student” visa route. The parent in these circumstances is, for visa purposes, considered the dependant of the child student.
Providing your daughter is under the age of 12 years, you can continue to accompany them in the UK and have her live with you. At the age of 12, you will no longer be able to “piggy-back” off your daughter’s child student’s status, nor will she be permitted to continue to live under your care arrangements while in the UK.
It is possible for you to remain in the UK if there is a younger sibling aged four or above, who is eligible for a child student visa. As your second child will turn four as your older daughter turns 12, you may be able to apply to be the parent of a child student for your younger child and your older daughter will be able to continue to live in the UK family home. However, when your second child turns 12 you will not be able to remain in the UK under the same visa arrangement.
Alternative living arrangements are permitted under the child student route and include the child living with a close family member permanently based in the UK, such as a grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle (not a parent), or entering a formal foster care arrangement.
Where the above scenario does not apply, the parent will need to explore alternative immigration routes that allows them to be the main visa applicant and apply for the children to be their dependants. This can, unfortunately, take time and may be disruptive to your child’s education.
Child safeguarding is a core requirement of student sponsorship in the UK. As the sponsoring school is responsible for the child during the validity of their visa, it is worth noting that care arrangements for child students will often be closely observed. If it becomes apparent that the child’s proposed or current living arrangements do not fall within those permitted by the visa category, sponsorship could be withdrawn.
Should I give up rights to my ex’s pension?
My husband and I are getting divorced. He has suggested I keep the marital home, which has a small mortgage. In return, he has asked me not to seek a share of his pension. Is this sensible?
Natalie Lester, a senior lawyer in the family and divorce team at Debenhams Ottaway, says this is not a good idea. It might seem practical and initially lucrative for you to take the property and for your husband to retain his pension in full, but this could result in you facing pension poverty in the future.
You haven’t mentioned your ages but assuming you and your husband are in your thirties or forties your husband has many years left to continue to build his pension pot and save to buy another property. Even if you can pay off the small mortgage on your marital home, you could end with a house but no pension or just a very small one that is inadequate to fund your retirement. You could end up working much longer than you desire.
Pensions are the asset most often overlooked in divorce settlements. Statistics show that only around 15 per cent of divorces result in the splitting of pension rights. People frequently underestimate just how valuable pensions can be.
Your husband’s pension could be worth more than the family home so there is a lot at stake. Due to increased life expectancy and the potential for increased time spent receiving later-life care, women need larger retirement funds than men.
A woman having to take time out of paid employment to care for children, combined with the possibility of returning only part-time, can wreak havoc on their pension savings. Without splitting the pension fairly on divorce, women can end up in a financially precarious position further down the line. House prices can go down as well as up. Properties are hard and costly to maintain, and you could end up working for much longer than planned. Without an adequate pension, there is a real risk that your income in retirement could run out.
Pension sharing is probably the favourite option among divorcees. This allows the splitting of the pension into two individual pots from the date of the divorce. This allows each ex-spouse to retire when they want and access the benefits when they want (from the age of 55). Pension sharing is popular because it offers the cleanest break and true independence from one another. It may also ensure a fairer settlement in your case.
I understand that you may be emotionally attached to your marital home, but I would urge you to seek advice from a divorce lawyer and a financial adviser to make an informed decision. A pension actuary may also be required to look at how to achieve equality of income for both parties in retirement.
The opinions in this column are intended for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice. The Financial Times Ltd and the authors are not responsible for any direct or indirect result arising from any reliance placed on replies, including any loss, and exclude liability to the full extent.
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