Child Maintenance – 56% of separated families have a child maintenance arrangement.

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When parents separate, there is an obligation on the non-resident parent to pay child maintenance to the parent with who the child/children live with. Parents are encouraged to agree this amount between them and this is known as a child maintenance arrangement. It is a voluntary payment, often based around the statutory calculation which is in place and which can be accessed on the UK Government website.

If an agreement cannot be reached, you can approach the Child Maintenance Service (“CMS”) who replaced the infamous Child Support Agency (“CSA”) when it was phased out between 2015-2018.

The CMS will undertake an assessment of child maintenance based on several factors, such as the paying parent’s gross income (less pension income), how many nights of contact they have and the number of children they are responsible for.

Surprisingly to many clients, the Courts have very little jurisdiction in this area.  The Court will only get involved if you satisfy one of the following exemptions:-

  • If the paying party earns more than £156,000 a year;
  • The paying parent lives outside of the UK; or
  • You have further expenses for education or disability needs.

A major change brought in by the CMS was the imposition of a charge for using the CMS to collect the payments where the parties cannot agree a child maintenance arrangement. The charges are 20% on top of the paying parent’s maintenance and a 4% reduction on the receiving party. For example if maintenance was assessed at £1,200 per month, this would increase to £1,440 (£240 in charges) for the paying parent and the receiving parent would get 4% less namely £1,152 per month.

In the latest three-year period covering the financial years 2018 to 2020, it is estimated that: –

  • Parents with care in separated families received a total of £2.3 billion annually in child maintenance payments.
  • 56% of separated families have a child maintenance arrangement.

Top up child maintenance for higher earners where parents are married and Schedule 1 claims under the Children Act 1989 where parents are unmarried are other areas of law where parents can receive a higher award than the statutory child maintenance calculations. Our team specialises in such cases.

Speak to our family law experts today

IBB Law’s family law practice can provide expert advice on all family law issues. To contact the family law team please email familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk or call 03456 381381.