amicable's guide to child maintenance

Little boy holding an orange ball
Originally published on 24th September 2019 at 5:15 PM

What is child maintenance?

Child maintenance is the money a parent pays towards their child’s upbringing if you separate from your ex.  All parents have a responsibility to support their child financially (even if they don’t see them). Child maintenance is usually a regular monthly payment to the parent who cares for the child most/more of the time.

Where do you start?

To help you agree an amount, work out what your current children expenses are by making a list of what you spend each month. I have included some questions that will help.

The government’s child maintenance calculator will provide a base line figure as a starting point.

How do we arrange child maintenance?

There are different ways to arrange child maintenance and it’s up to you to choose the one that best suits your circumstances. Most people opt for a private arrangement between themselves setting up a regular direct debit payment.

If you think deciding between you will be difficult, then you can always ask the Child Maintenance Service to help. They have a range of options depending on how much agreement there is between you.

What is statutory child maintenance?

Statutory child maintenance is the minimum amount payable. It’s calculated by taking into consideration how much the parent earns, how often the child stays over with them, whether they have other children, or children living with them.

You can pay more than the statutory amount to by considering your child’s lifestyle or to include paying bills (for example, paying for or towards the mortgage on the family home) or buying items such as clothes and toys.

What happens if someone stops paying or refuses to pay?

If one parent refuses to pay child maintenance or stops paying, seek help from the government. Click here to access an excellent breakdown of the process if this happens.

Child maintenance questions and considerations

  1. Pocket money – how much, how will it be funded, how often and who gives it?
  2. How will you fund clubs, hobbies, swimming or music lessons/ instruments and school trips?
  3. How will you fund any big birthday/Christmas presents such as bikes and phones/laptops?
  4. Who will pay for driving lessons?
  5. What arrangements will be in place for paying for professional training, Further or Higher Education?

No family is the same and change is inevitable. This advice is a solid starting point but be prepared to be flexible. If you feel some extra support could help, then get in touch for help or book a co-parenting coaching session here.   

About the author

Kate Daly is a co-founder of amicable and host of The Divorce Podcast. Kate is a divorce expert and helps couples and separated parents navigate divorce and separation amicably. She's passionate about changing the way the world divorces and campaigns for fairer divorce laws and access to justice.

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