Child Maintenance is when a parent of relative offers regular financial support that helps pay everyday living costs of bringing up a child when parents are separated.
The money is for children who are under 16 or under 20 and still in full-time education not higher than A-Level. If you are having issues around child maintenance or are unsure on how much you should be paying, please feel free to write to us if you have a question about your matter.
Our Family Law team covers the whole of the UK and are more than happy to answer your queries and assist you with your matter should you choose to instruct us.
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Arranging child maintenance
Child maintenance is there to help support your child’s well-being and can help to improve the quality of family relationships.
The parent who doesn’t have the day-to-day care (the ‘paying parent’) pays child maintenance to the parent or person who does (the ‘receiving parent’). So in the example of the child living with “Mum”, “Dad” would pay child maintenance to “Mum” to help with the costs of clothing, food, school uniforms etc.
When possible, you should make sure your child is looked after by having an effective maintenance arrangement in place. Both parents are legally responsible for the financial costs of bringing up their children, even parents who don’t live with their children.
Separated parents can arrange child maintenance:
- privately through a family-based arrangement
- through a Consent Order from a court
- through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS)
Getting help with child maintenance
If you think you need to arrange child maintenance but require more information, you can get in touch with us and we will help to give you the support you need and answer any questions you might have about arranging child maintenance.
It’s important that both parents make a final agreement that provides regular and reliable financial support to help with the child’s living costs.
A family-based arrangement is the name for when you’re able to agree upon child maintenance fees without going to court or using a child maintenance service. You can make this agreement privately to sort out child maintenance.
If you’re not able to find a family-based agreement and you go to court, you may receive A Consent Order which is an official ruling made by a court. To put one in place both parents need to agree how much child maintenance is going to be paid and how often before going to court.
You ask the court to turn this agreement into a Consent Order which makes it legally binding. You can do this privately with the other parent or through a solicitor.
Putting in place a Consent Order will involve legal costs for:
- court fees
If you can’t afford the costs, you might qualify for help with legal costs through Legal Aid.
If you require Legal Aid, speak with us and we will help to guide you through the application process should you qualify.
Paying child maintenance
If child maintenance isn’t paid, the other parent can ask the court to enforce the Consent Order. The court can order money to be taken directly from the wages or property of the parent who should be paying child maintenance, and can also force them to sell their belongings.
During the first 12 months of a Consent Order, you can’t ask the Child Maintenance Service to put a child maintenance arrangement in place. This includes calculating, collecting or enforcing payments.
After 12 months of the Consent Order, either parent can ask the Child Maintenance Service for a child maintenance arrangement. This cancels the Consent Order.
Contact us and speak to an experienced member of our Family Law team on 033 33 582 588.
For information about Legal Aid services, visit our Legal Aid page.