Child Maintenance: Your Frequently Asked Questions Answered

When you and your partner are ending a marriage from which you have children, child maintenance arrangements are high on your list of worries. As a parent, you want your child to get through their childhood and teenage years comfortably, without any financial worries – that said, you need to be mindful of your own future and of any personal expenses that might arise.

At Cordell & Cordell, we help lots of parents make child maintenance arrangements and we always aim for the fairest possible outcome. Our team of divorce lawyers believes that child maintenance should be based on measurable factors like income and assets rather than on gender alone.

What Is Child Maintenance?

Child maintenance consists of financial aid that one parent – the non-resident parent (NRP) – pays to the parent with care (PWC) of the child or children after divorce. Child maintenance aims to divide the child(ren)’s everyday living costs when they live with just one parent.

What Does Child Maintenance Cover?

Child maintenance covers the cost of the everyday care of the child, such as food, clothes and housing. Expenses such as school fees do not fall under child maintenance – parents who are getting a divorce can make a “Family Based Arrangement” to deal with costs like this.

What Is a Family-Based Arrangement?

In contrast to child maintenance, family-based arrangements are not a legal responsibility. Parents can come to a family-based arrangement between the two of them or with the help of mediation. The advantages of family-based arrangements are that they are very flexible, meaning that they can easily adapt to changing needs if both parties are willing to collaborate. The disadvantage is that they aren’t legally enforceable, which means they require the relationship between both parties to be amicable and collaborative.

The costs of school fees, day trips, toys, hobbies and holidays are usually allocated by  family-based arrangements.

How Much Child Maintenance Should I Pay?

The amount of child maintenance that you pay as a non-resident parent is based on:

  • Your age
  • Your weekly gross income
  • Any benefits that you might receive
  • How many children you are paying child maintenance for
  • How many children live in your household
  • How many times a year the children stay overnight with you

You can easily calculate the amount of child maintenance you should pay to your ex-spouse with our straightforward child maintenance calculator.

Can Child Maintenance Payments Be Reduced?

Some of our clients want to know how to reduce child maintenance payments when their and/or their partner’s financial situation changes. Indeed, when there is a substantial change in income or wealth available to either parent, it may be possible to make changes to the amount of child maintenance with the help of a solicitor.

What Happens to My Payments If I Get a New Partner?

In principle, new partnerships do not affect child maintenance arrangements, regardless of whether one of the parents enters into marriage or into a civil partnership. However, the level of payments can be adjusted if, for example, either of your income levels change.

When Does Child Maintenance End?

Child maintenance payments usually stop when the child in question is 16 years old. If the child is in full-time education up to A-level or equivalent, payments stop once they reach 20.

There are other exceptional circumstances that define when you can stop paying child maintenance, for example:

  • When the parent being paid stops being the child’s main carer
  • When the receiving parent doesn’t want to receive the payments anymore
  • When either parent dies
  • When the parent who makes the payments is eligible for the “nil rate” – for example, if they are below 16, receive certain benefits or allowances, are a student, are a prisoner or live in a care home or independent hospital
  • When the child stops being eligible for Child Benefit

Legal Advice on Child Maintenance

Cordell & Cordell specialises in child maintenance advice for fathers. If you need legal advice with regard to the payments you pay or receive, please get in touch with our experienced family lawyers.

Last updated: August 28th, 2018

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