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A guide to child maintenance

Need help with child maintenance? Have an ex-partner refusing to pay? We'll answer your questions.

Last updated on January 11th, 2024 at 10:18 am

What is child maintenance in the UK?

Child maintenance, which is sometimes called child support, is a financial assistance provided to help with the cost of raising a child after a divorce. One parent pays the other parent, who is the primary caregiver of the child, to help with everyday living costs. Deciding on child maintenance payments and agreeing on the amount to be paid can be a stressful and time-consuming process, especially during an emotional and difficult time

Who is entitled to child maintenance? 

The person who is primarily responsible for taking care of a child is entitled to receive child maintenance. In most cases, the primary carer is one of the parents, but it can also be other family members, such as grandparents or legal guardians. If you are a parent who does not live with your child, you are required to pay child maintenance to the primary carer. These payments are intended to cover the everyday living expenses of your child and can be arranged directly between both parents.

How much child maintenance should I get?

The amount of child maintenance you receive is determined by the income of the parent who is paying it. The Child Maintenance Service takes into account several factors, such as the paying parent’s income, whether they are paying maintenance for other children, and how many children you have. The payment calculation is based on a percentage of the payee’s gross weekly income, with 12 percent for one child, 16 percent for two children, and 19 percent for three or more children. While parents can agree on their own financial arrangements (known as a family-based arrangement), in cases where they cannot agree or an ex-partner refuses to pay child maintenance, you may need to seek assistance from a child maintenance solicitor.

What should child maintenance payments be used for? 

Child maintenance payments are intended to cover the day-to-day expenses of the child, which includes expenses related to food, housing, and clothing. Currently, there is no law in place that mandates the primary caregiver to provide evidence of spending child maintenance exclusively on everyday living expenses for the child

How do I start a child maintenance claim?

Your first step to establishing regular child maintenance payments is to try to make a family based arrangement with your ex-partner. If you are unable to come to an agreement, then you should contact a family law solicitor.

How long do I have to pay child maintenance for? 

Child maintenance payments typically cease when children turn 16. However, if the child is pursuing full-time approved education, such payments may continue until they reach 20. There are other factors that can impact when child maintenance payments end, including the death of a parent, the parent receiving the payments no longer being the primary caregiver, or a change in the financial circumstances of the parent making the payments. If child custody arrangements change or if you’re making payments and your financial situation changes, it’s advisable to seek the guidance.

My ex-partner refuses to pay me child maintenance, what should I do? 

If your former partner refuses to make child maintenance payments, you may want to consider seeking legal assistance to help arrange the payments. 

What is a child arrangement order?

A child arrangement order is a legal document issued by a court that determines who a child should live with and how much child maintenance should be paid. It is usually a last resort when parents are unable to reach an agreement, either by themselves or through mediation with the help of an experienced child maintenance solicitor. 

Can I pay child maintenance direct to my child? 

Ordinarily child maintenance is paid directly to the primary carer. However, if you have a family based arrangement, you can make child maintenance payments directly to your child, but only if both parties agree. 

Do I have to pay tax on child maintenance? 

Tax relief is not available on child maintenance payments. If you are receiving child maintenance from an ex-partner, then these payments will not count towards income tax.

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