Child maintenance is financial support towards your child’s everyday living costs. This maintenance applies when you’ve separated from the other parent who is considered as the primary carer.
In many cases, you and your ex-partner can arrange child maintenance yourself, if you can agree. This is called a ‘Family-Based Arrangement’.
What is a “Family-Based Arrangement”?
A family-based arrangement is a private way to sort out child maintenance.
Parents arrange everything themselves and no-one else has to be involved.
It’s flexible and can be changed if circumstances change.
You agree how much the payments should be and when they should be made. There’s no official paperwork but you can write down your agreement in case of future disagreement.
For example, you could both agree that the paying parent pays:
- a proportion of their income
- for things like school clothes instead of giving money
- a regular set amount directly to the parent with care
Family-based arrangements aren’t legally binding and so if there are problems, you can still apply to the Child Maintenance Service for help.
How much Child Support should be paid?
If you’re unsure as to how much maintenance should be paid, as a guide, you can always use the Child Maintenance Service calculator for help and as a pointer to what you may be expected to pay or receive were your case to be referred to the Child Maintenance Service.
But what if we can’t agree?
Ultimately, in cases whereby the parents cannot agree what financial support should be offered, the Child Maintenance Service can be referred to. However, in every case it is always expected that you speak to Child Maintenance Options first.
The Child Maintenance Service can:
- try to find the other parent if you don’t know where they live, to sort out child maintenance
- sort out disagreements about parentage
- work out how much child maintenance should be paid
- arrange for the ‘paying’ parent to pay child maintenance – the parent who doesn’t have main day-to-day care of the child
- pass payments on to the ‘receiving’ parent – the parent who has main day-to-day care of the child
- look at the payments again when changes in parents’ circumstances are reported
- review the payment amount every year
- take action if payments aren’t made
At Prism Family Law, we can help you to try and reach family-based arrangements for the payment of child maintenance. Or, in cases of dispute, we can help you with any review of decisions made by the Child Maintenance Service in relation to how much child maintenance has been assessed as being owed. Should you require any further help or advice in this area then please do not hesitate to telephone 0191 269 6871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with a view to making an appointment to discuss your circumstances and case in confidence.