Separation often results in one parent being responsible for the majority of the everyday care of the children. A common result of this is that they also end up being responsible for the everyday costs. Child maintenance payments are financial support paid by the parent who does not have day-to-day care of the children. It can be paid to the other parent, the child or a grandparent or other guardian.
Child support payments are usually agreed between the parents or through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
An agreement between parents is a fast and simple way to agree child support. It also allows greater flexibility as it can be paid in different ways:
- Lump sums at significant point in the child’s life
- Regular payment to a savings account or trust for the child
- Education costs: uniforms, equipment, school fees
- Paying bills or rent
If a regular set amount is preferable; the child maintenance calculator provides an estimate of what the government think a reasonable amount is based on your circumstances.
A family law solicitor will be able to help you negotiate and arrange child support made in this way.
Child Support Agency and Child Maintenance Service
The Child Support Agency (CSA) only handles existing cases. New child maintenance claims are dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service. These governmental organisations determine child maintenance based primarily on the following:
- Income of the paying parent
- The number of children involved
- The amount of overnight contact that parent has with those children
The Child Maintenance Service has largely replaced the Child Support Agency however, child maintenance can still be worked out with the CSA if the case was opened before March 2003. The CMS aims for a more collaborative approach by encouraging parents to make direct payments. Additionally, it is available to families with two or more children.
Child maintenance and support can be a complex area. The advice of a solicitor can be invaluable in the early stages or if you are looking to appeal the maintenance calculation of the CSA or CMS. Further complications can arise where the location of a parent is not known or if they are based abroad.