Child Maintenance 101 Explained
What is child maintenance?
Child maintenance is money paid by the parent with whom the child spends less time to cover the everyday living costs paid by the other parent, although in practice it is not possible to dictate how child maintenance is spent.
How to go about agreeing child maintenance?
Most parents agree child maintenance on the basis of the amount that would be payable through the Child Maintenance Service (see below).
Child Maintenance Service
If maintenance cannot be agreed then either party can make an application to the Child Maintenance Service. Since 30 June 2014 the Child Maintenance Service have charged fees in respect of both the application and, if parents request it, the collect and pay service whereby maintenance is paid through the Child Maintenance Service. It is therefore in both parents’ interest to agree a family based arrangement which basically means you agree the maintenance figure between yourselves without involving the Child Maintenance Service. There is a link here to the child maintenance calculator : www.gov.uk/calculate-your-child-maintenance.
How to make the payments
Due to the fact the Child Maintenance Service will charge if maintenance payments are paid through them it is sensible to make the payments direct. So that there is proof that payment has been made it is advisable to do this through a direct payment to the other parent’s bank account.
Change in circumstances
If the paying parent’s circumstances change then he or she can apply to the Child Maintenance Service for a new assessment. At the moment the child maintenance calculation does not take into account the receiving parent’s circumstances so these are not relevant.
What happens if the paying parent has or becomes responsible for children from a new relationship?
If the paying parent has responsibility for other children e.g. a partner with whom he is living has children or he has children from a new relationship then this will effect the maintenance assessment and a new calculation can be done.
What happens if the paying parent dies?
If the paying parent dies then the other parent can make a claim against his or her estate on behalf of the children under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. In deciding what award is appropriate the court will consider the size of the estate, the needs of the children and the needs of any other beneficiaries or potential claimants under this Act.