22nd December 2023|In Latest News, Children

Child Maintenance FAQs

“My partner and I recently broke up and we have children together. Where do I start with organising child maintenance?”

Navigating the UK’s child maintenance system can seem overwhelming, but here’s a simplified guide to get you started. If you’re exploring how to begin, a comprehensive resource is available at UK Government’s Child Maintenance Service. This website offers detailed information on eligibility, various approaches to handle your situation, and the application process if you choose to pursue this path.

Upon engaging with the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), they will manage your case going forward. If you prefer a more private arrangement, consider using the government’s child maintenance calculator. It provides a ballpark figure for potential maintenance payments, keeping in mind that this is an estimate, not a precise figure you would receive through the CMS.


“What’s included in child maintenance?”

Child maintenance encompasses the essential expenses of raising a child, such as food, clothing, housing, and activities for personal growth. The primary caregiver may seek extra help for specific costs like school uniforms and excursions. However, it’s up to the contributing parent to decide whether to honor these additional requests.

Financial support through child maintenance aims to secure the child’s well-being. For one-off requests or special occasions, it’s advisable to assess each situation individually.


“When does child maintenance end?”

Typically, child maintenance is obligatory until the child completes full-time secondary education, potentially extending beyond their 18th birthday. If the child proceeds to full-time higher education, parents can agree to continue support, though this isn’t automatically required and may need mutual consent or a court order if an agreement isn’t possible.


“How likely is it I’ll need to go to court”

Most child maintenance cases are handled by the CMS without needing court involvement. However, court applications may be necessary under certain conditions:

  • If the CMS calculation indicates that the paying parent’s annual gross income exceeds £156,000, the other parent can request a court for additional support.
  • For expenses related to a child’s disability, like care or home modifications, the court can issue orders for additional financial support, determined case-by-case.
  • Contributions towards private school fees may also require a court order, especially if there’s proof of private schooling or a pre-agreed plan for such education.


“What about payments missed in the past?”

Backdating child maintenance isn’t straightforward. The possibility and extent of backdating depend on the specifics of each case.

For effective handling, it’s best to contact the CMS promptly after a separation or divorce. Remember, the CMS can only reclaim missed payments from when the maintenance claim was processed. Informal agreements with an ex-partner, not processed through the CMS, might require civil legal action for recovering backdated or missed payments. Keep this in mind if considering a ‘family agreement.’

If there’s an existing formal claim with the CMS and you notice missed payments, contact them immediately. The CMS has significant authority to retrieve funds or impose penalties on the paying parent until dues are settled.

Can we help you? Please call us on 0333 344 6302 or contact us through our enquiry form. All initial enquiries are free and without obligation.

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