Child maintenance is regular, reliable financial support that helps towards your child’s everyday living costs. Sorting out maintenance often becomes a battleground so if conversations seem to always end up in rows its worth getting additional support and information.
Child Maintenance Options Service provides support to parents to help them make family-based arrangements and information on the other options for making an arrangement.
It is an impartial service and is available through:
- a freephone † national telephone helpline, 0800 988 0988
- website www.cmoptions.org
- a face-to-face service for those in most need of more personalised help and support.
They also provide information and support on other issues parents might face in making maintenance arrangements, such as housing, legal and money concerns.
Some general information about maintenance
The parent who does not have the main day-to-day care of the child pays the parent who does have the main day-today care. It is intended to help towards housing costs as well as for things like clothing, food and other essentials. Child maintenance can make a real difference to the quality of life that children experience and it can also help keep both parents involved with their children’s lives.
Many parents choose to sort out child maintenance between them. This gives them the flexibility to decide what they feel is reasonable and affordable. They can also decide on things like whether all the child maintenance will be paid directly to the parent with care or whether some payments are made in kind, for example, they might agree that dad pays for the swimming lessons or buys nappies regularly.
As a starting point in deciding the amount to pay, it’s useful to know that the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (CMEC) calculation is based on a person’s net income (after tax and NI have been deducted). The amount for one child is 15% of net income, 20% for two children and 25% for three or more. These are approximate figures as there are reductions according to how many nights the children spend with the parent who does not have day to day care and whether this parent has any other children. If the parent paying is on a very low income or receives benefits including Income Support, income based Jobseekers Allowance or Pension Credit then a flat rate of £5 applies no matter how many children there are. For more information see wwwcmoptions.org
If parents can’t make a family arrangement, they can use CMEC, who will work out the amount of maintenance using a set of rules and collect it for the parent with the main day-to-day care. CMEC can also try to track down parents. If a parent refuses to pay the maintenance worked out under a CMEC arrangement. CMEC can and will take enforcement action against them.
Follow this link for further information on what to expect after a separation