Child Maintenance

Child maintenance is about providing help with a child’s everyday living costs. This includes things like food and clothes, and helping to provide a home for your child or children. It’s usually the money the parent without the main day-to-day care (or residency) of a child, pays to the other parent. It is a legal responsibility to provide financial support for your children.

Many parents agree between them how much child maintenance should be paid, but others find it impossible and so need help from outside agencies. See below to understand the different ways you can go about calculating and agreeing child maintenance.

We can help. Call us on 01935 823883

Calculating Child Maintenance

1. Agree Child maintenance payments between you

This can either be done with you discussing and agreeing an amount, or you could use the Child Maintenance Service payment calculator to help you work out the level of payments. This is known as a family-based arrangement and you fill in an agreement form to make a record of what you agree together. This is definitely the cheapest and quickest option. If you would like the security of a court order, you can also arrange child maintenance by going through the courts to put a consent order in place. This can also form part of a financial order when agreeing the financial side of your divorce/dissolution.

2. Ask the Child Maintenance Service to help

If you are finding it difficult to communicate with the other parent, or distrust their ability to pay regularly and on time and you do not want to go through the hassle or expense of going to court, it would be wise to at least have the statutory amount calculated by the Child Maintenance Service as it will then be legally binding amount which can be enforced through the courts if necessary. They decide, using a 6-step approach, how much the paying parent (referred to in legislation as the non-resident parent) should pay the receiving parent (referred to in legislation as the parent with care). They can then work out a legally enforceable child maintenance amount. Once this amount has been calculated, you have 2 choices of how this can be paid:

  • Pay it directly from one parent to the other
  • Have it collected and paid by the Child Maintenance Service. This service now comes with hefty fees, so you might want to try and arrange it between yourselves, as it is not only quicker, but a much cheaper option.

When does the Court have jurisdiction?

The Court still retains jurisdiction to assess child maintenance for:

  • School fees
  • Top-up payments where the non-resident parent's income exceeds the CSA maximum for assessment (around £104,000 net per annum)
  • Where the parties agree an Order, usually limited to up to 1 year from the Order
  • For the particular needs of a disabled child

It may also be possible to apply for a lump sum payment for a child under Schedule 2 of the Children Act 1989.

For help with child maintenance, call us on 01935 823883