Parents have two options to deal with child maintenance; either to reach an agreement between themselves or to approach the Child Support Agency (CSA). If a couple is divorcing or going through a dissolution, they can incorporate agreement into their court order as part of the overall settlement.

Child maintenance refers to regular financial support – weekly, monthly or yearly – paid by a parent to the other to help with the day-to-day living costs of a child. It is for children who are under 16 or under 20 and still in full-time school or college education (this stops if a child goes to university).

Child maintenance can be arranged between the two parents, but if it cannot be achieved this way, an organisation such as the CSA or Child Maintenance Service (CMS) will work out how much should be paid. These statutory child maintenance services can also collect payments and pass them on.

Private Agreements

If parents can agree on the amount and frequency of maintenance, it can be recorded in a written document. This option is useful when both parents trust each other and are honest about their financial situations. However, it is important to note that this agreement is not legally binding and therefore one parent cannot be held to the terms of the agreement should they decide to change their mind.

Using the CSA or CMS

These organisations help a lot of parents to resolve questions of child maintenance. There are four different types of rates that one parent (the paying parent) pays to the other (the receiving parent). The receiving parent looks after the everyday care of a child and the paying parent doesn’t.

The four different rates of pay depend on the circumstance of the paying parent. They are called:

  • Nil rate
  • Flat rate
  • Reduced rate
  • Basic rate
  • Court agreements

Court agreements can only be used as part of a dissolution or a divorce proceedings. This type of agreement is largely the same as a private agreement, however, the major difference is that it is recorded and approved by the court as an order, which is legally binding.

How can a solicitor help with child maintenance matters?

Our family law solicitors can help you negotiate the appropriate amount needed to support your child. Additionally, they can support you to change the terms of an existing agreement and help you when maintenance is being withheld by your ex-partner.

How much is the average child maintenance payment?

When a party pays child maintenance and the amount is decided by regulatory agencies, the amount will be based on your income. For instance:

  • 12% of gross weekly income for one child
  • 16% of gross weekly income for two children
  • 19% of gross weekly income for three or more

When will someone not have to pay for child maintenance

The circumstances in which a party won’t be required to pay child maintenance include:

  • When they’re sharing care equally with the other parent
  • When they’re a full-time student with no income
  • When they’re in prison

How can Gorvins help?

If you’re having difficulty reaching an agreement concerning children or would like more information about applying for a Child Arrangement Order please contact one of our family law solicitors at 0161 930 5151, e-mail or fill in our online form at the top of this page.

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