How is Child Maintenance Agreed?

Parents can decide between themselves how much child maintenance should be paid. If they cannot agree, they can defer to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) instead.

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By Claudia Price - 27th April 2021

Each parent has a financial obligation to provide for their child, even if they are not the child’s main carer.

Parents can decide between themselves how much child maintenance should be paid. If they cannot agree, they can defer to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) instead. The CMS determines how much child maintenance a parent should pay. This is based on income.

How do parents decide on child maintenance?

Parents can discuss, negotiate and agree child maintenance payments between themselves, through solicitors or even by way of mediation.

Involving a solicitor is particularly advantageous if you are the receiving parent. This is because solicitors can request financial disclosure of the other parent’s earnings to calculate what would be a fair and reasonable sum. This may result in you receiving a greater amount of child maintenance than you originally expected.

If, however, you cannot reach an agreement, then you can ask the Child Maintenance Service to intervene. When this happens, the parties will have to pay Child Maintenance Service a fee.

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What is the Child Maintenance Service?

The Child Maintenance Service is a government run agency which sets the threshold for what maintenance payments parents should make, based upon their income. Where necessary, they can arrange and collect the funds from one parent and pay it to the other. This can also assist in cases where one party is a victim of domestic abuse.

What if the other parent will not pay?

If the other parent is unwilling to pay, you will need to make an application through the Child Maintenance Service, who can collect the sum on your behalf. If the other parent is still unwilling to comply directly with them and discharge their financial obligations, the Child Maintenance Service can seek the funds directly from the other parent’s employer.

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What if the other parent has moved abroad?

The Child Maintenance Service only deals with applications where both parties are habitually resident in the UK, save for limited exceptions.

However, an application can be made to the Court under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989, seeking maintenance payments from the paying parent who lives abroad.

When considering an application for Schedule 1, the Court will assess:

  • The income, earning capacity, property and financial resources of both parties now and in the future
  • The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of the parties now and in the future
  • The financial needs of the child
  • The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources of the child
  • The physical or mental disability of the child
  • How the child is expected to be educated

This is a complex area of law and is entirely dependent on the circumstances of the parties. Our team of specialists can advise you accordingly and guide you through the process.

Can we have a Child Maintenance Agreement drawn up?

Yes – if an agreement is reached between you, you can record this in writing. A Child Maintenance Agreement is not legally binding, however, it does show the paying party’s intentions to financially support their child following separation.

Speak to our child law solicitors

If you wish to speak to a member of our team regarding child maintenance, call our specialist Family Law solicitors today for a free no-obligation appointment.

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