Parents have an obligation to provide financial support towards their child’s day-to-day living costs. Those within a relationship will be able to share this cost between them. However, if parents are separated or divorced, it will be necessary for the non-resident parent to provide child maintenance.
What is child maintenance?
Child maintenance is when the non-resident parent (the parent who does not live with the child) offers regular, financial payments to the parent with care (who may be a parent, a grandparent or a legal guardian). This financial support is a legal obligation, as parents have a responsibility to contribute towards the everyday costs of bringing up their child. Child maintenance may therefore be used in any number of ways, from buying food and clothes to covering the expense school excursions.
Parents may decide between themselves how much child maintenance is to be paid, as well as how and when it is to be paid. This is known as a family-based arrangement. However, it is not always possible to reach such agreements with your ex-spouse; furthermore, it may not be suitable in some cases, particularly where there the risk of violence. If so, you can ask the Child Support Agency (CSA) for assistance.
The CSA is an organisation that calculates how much maintenance the non-resident parent should pay. The figure will vary from case to case, and is based upon various considerations such as monthly income, the amount of contact with the child and the number of other children also being supported. Once an amount is established, the CSA can organise how and when the payments are to be made. It also has the power to enforce payments, should a non-resident parent fail to comply.
Court orders for child maintenance
Anyone who is going to court as a result of their divorce or separation may also want to consider applying for a Consent Order about child maintenance. This is an official ruling made by the court which states how much and how often maintenance should be paid, as well as any circumstances in which these payments may be altered. Having a Consent Order will make your child maintenance arrangements legally binding, meaning court action can be taken against a non-resident parent who falls into arrears.
Speak to a family lawyer
If you would like further information on child maintenance, contact us today at Roskell Davies solicitors. We have a dedicated family law department ready to offer their professional legal assistance. Call 0800 142 2901 or fill in an online enquiry.