Child Maintenance Lawyer

Consulting with a child maintenance lawyer could early on could well lead to an early and cost effective settlement being agreed.

Child maintenance is required once a family life is disturbed through the separation or divorce of the parents. Following a parent’s separation one parent will have custody for the child whilst the other will be in regular contact. Despite a separation or divorce it is the right of the parents to ensure they are responsible for bringing up their child.

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What is child maintenance and why is it important?

Child maintenance is the regular and reliable financial support which helps towards a child’s everyday living costs. It is the legal right of the child to be supported financially by both parents. Child maintenance helps with the costs of raising children and covers day to expenses of food, clothing and school expenses to the costs of running a child’s main home and giving a child a reasonable quality of life. It is usually the parent who doesn’t have main day to day care of the child that will make the child maintenance payments.

Child maintenance is important as it makes a difference to the children and their lives. Parents often stay involved in the child’s lives whilst fulfilling their legal responsibility of maintaining their child.

The law on child maintenance

Child maintenance is paid by the parent who the child does not live with for the majority of the time. There are 3 ways in which child maintenance can be agreed. These are:

  • Agreeing child maintenance payments directly with your former partner. This is also known as the “family based arrangement”. This is usually carried out where parents remain amicable following their separation and is the quickest and cheapest way to agree child maintenance.
  • The Child Maintenance Service. This is the government run scheme which calculates the child maintenance payment.
  • Court Order. Where parents are unable to agree on family law child maintenance the court has the power to set maintenance payments. This usually applies when the paying parent has a high income or financial assets which need to be considered before family law child maintenance payments can be decided upon.

Calculating family law child maintenance

Calculating family law child maintenance payments depends on how you agree with your former partner.

If an agreement can be reached amicably then it is entirely up to both parents as to what arrangements, they agree upon. You could decide whether you want to pay a fixed regular amount or whether payments will be varied to help with the expenses throughout the year.  Parents can also reach an agreement of whether they want to pay directly for school activities, accessories, uniforms and holidays.

Quite often families are able to calculate the family law child maintenance payments by making use of the online calculator provided by the Government online. This calculator takes into account the paying parents income which includes state pension, benefits they receive and the number of nights the child stays with them.

When the calculation of family law child maintenance takes place, whether this be through the Government led Child Maintenance Scheme or the court, there are several factors which will be taken into account some of which are:

  • How many children the parents have
  • The income of the parent who will be making the child maintenance payments,
  • How much time they spend with the paying parent and
  • Whether the paying parent is paying child maintenance for other children.

At Kabir Family Law, our child maintenance lawyers have the requisite skills and knowledge to be able to assist you in assessing your family’s circumstances to try and assist you in calculating the child maintenance payments for your child.

Our family lawyers in Northampton are available to provide a free consultation to discuss any child maintenance queries.

Consider your options with a child maintenance lawyer

Prior to dealing with child maintenance payments many people consider their options with a child maintenance lawyer. Child maintenance lawyers will be able to advise you on all 3 methods by which child maintenance payments can be made. With their experience they will be able to advise you on the prospects of achieving child maintenance payments through the Child Maintenance Service and the family court. Child maintenance lawyers may be able to assist you in reaching a successful agreement with your former partner which has the same result as you going to the court or through the Child Maintenance Service.

What is the legal requirement for family law child maintenance? 

The legal requirement for family law child maintenance is based on both parents’ legal responsibility for the financial costs of bringing up the children. Following a separation, the parent who is not the main carer of the child will may money to the other parent who has day to day of the child. This family law child maintenance payment is also known as child support.

Parents can attempt to reach an amicable agreement between themselves in which they can decide and agree on the amount of payment, and when and how these will be paid. If this cannot be decided there is the option of the Child Maintenance government schemes. There are 3 schemes run by the government.

The recent scheme of 2012 is run by the Child Maintenance Service. This is available to all new applicant. The Scheme of 1993 and 2003 are run by the child support agency. The 1993 scheme applies to cases before 3rd March 2003 whereas the 2003 scheme applies to cases opened on or after 3rd March 2003.

Can I choose how my child maintenance money is spent by the other parent? 

Quite often a parent can agree with the other parent on what the family law child maintenance money is spent on. This is usually if a family based arrangement has been agreed between the parents. If, however the child maintenance payments have been calculated by the Child Maintenance Service or by the court then this can be difficult. Once the money is handed over to the other parent, there are no rules or regulations in place regarding how the money is spent. As the resident parent, your partner will get to choose how the money is spent given that they are responsible for making decisions concerning the child’s day to day upbringing.

When can I legally stop paying family law child maintenance? 

Family law child maintenance payments are made until the child reaches the age of 16 years. Where a child is in full time education then the maintenance payments may continue until the child reaches the age of 20. Child maintenance can also be stopped if:

  • The parent receiving the is no longer the child’s main carer
  • The receiving parent no longer wants to receive payments
  • Either of the parents die
  • The paying parent is a student or in prison

Can we change an existing child maintenance agreement?

An existing child maintenance agreement can be changed once made. Both the parents can try and discuss and reach an agreement on any changes to be made. If the parents are unable to make the changes required or agree on these then the Courts and the Child Maintenance Service can become involved if one parent thinks things need to be considered again.

I qualify (or partner qualifies) for a maximum assessment under the CMS. What are my options?

If you or your spouse qualify for a maximum assessment for family law child maintenance this means you earn above the CMS threshold. The threshold is approximately £150,000 gross per year. In such a situation you may make a claim for top-up child maintenance. The court has the power to make additional child maintenance orders to provide extra child support. The courts will consider the child’s needs amongst other factors when considering top-up child maintenance. The top-up child maintenance is enforceable and still payable even after a year has passed from the order, provided that there is still a maximum Child Maintenance Service Assessment in place.

Using a child maintenance lawyer to secure legal advice before a court application for a maintenance top up

Child maintenance lawyers will be experienced to deal with child maintenance top up. They can advise you on the prospects of making a court application, as well as discussing the possibility of reaching an agreement with your former partner amicably without the need for court intervention. At Kabir Family Law our child maintenance lawyers can help you consider the inter play between child maintenance, spousal maintenance and the overall financial settlement to make sure you reach a resolution that works for you and your family. We can also advise you in court proceedings or support you through negotiations and mediation.

Do I have to pay both child maintenance and spousal support? 

Spousal maintenance is payments which you may need to make to your former spouse to help with their living costs and maintenance following a divorce. This is separate to family law child maintenance, which paid for the benefit of the child. As such you may be required to pay spousal maintenance in addition to child maintenance. This will need to be calculated based on the financial needs and expectations of the receiving party.

Using a child maintenance lawyer to draft a Family-Based Arrangement? 

Quite often families are able to agree on child maintenance payments between themselves without the need of involving the child maintenance service or the courts. This could be a relatively quick and cheaper option.

Child maintenance lawyers are able to analyse and assess the finance position of the partner who would be making the payments to assist in determining what amount of family law child maintenance payments should be made. This could be an ideal option where former partners remain amicable following their separation.

If, however the parents are not amicable then child maintenance lawyers can assist in trying to reach an agreement by attempting to reconcile any differences for the child’s needs. Child maintenance lawyers can also attempt to mediate between the parents to avoid the matter proceeding to the Child Maintenance Service or the family court.

Using a child maintenance lawyer to draft a Consent Order 

Parents often utilise the service of child maintenance lawyers to draft a consent order. This is used when parents manage to arrange an agreement between themselves. Consent orders provide a mechanism to make an informal agreement legally binding and therefore enforceable.

This will mean that the agreement can be relied upon if the paying parent fails to adhere to the terms agreed. At Kabir Family Law our child maintenance lawyers can assist in finalising and preparing the terms of the family law child maintenance payments consent order so it can be agreed and approved by the family court.

Using a child maintenance lawyer to advise you on dealing with Child maintenance service?

A child maintenance lawyer can advise you on dealing with Child Maintenance Service. Following a relationship breakdown child maintenance lawyers can protect your interests as well as provide you with prospects about your chances of achieving what you want. At Kabir Family Law, our child maintenance lawyers can assist you in reviewing the non-resident parents’ income and finances to allow you to calculate the family law child maintenance payments which are likely to be ordered by the Child Maintenance Service and the courts.

By utilising child maintenance lawyers, you are therefore likely to see what you may obtain and can consider whether you would still like to proceed with he Child Maintenance Service and the Court or attempt to reach an agreement directly with your former partner.

— Q&A SECTION — 

Is tax due on family law child maintenance? 

IF you are a parent who is receiving child maintenance then you will not have to pay any tax on the payments you receive.

Is there tax relief on paying family law child maintenance? 

There is no tax relief on paying family law child maintenance. If however you or the person receiving the maintenance was born before the 6th April 1935 then you may be able to claim tax relief in some circumstances.

Contact us today for an initial consultation

At Kabir Family Law our specialists have experience in dealing with Child Maintenance payments. If you require more information or require assistance in reaching an agreement for these payments then contact us on 0330 094 5880 to discuss your options or let us call you back.