Child maintenance and payments

child maintenance payments and what your responsibilities are

Child maintenance is a payment made by a parent who does not have primary custody of their child to the parent who does have primary custody. This payment is intended to help cover the costs of the child’s upbringing, including expenses such as food, clothing, and housing.

In most cases, child maintenance is arranged between the parents themselves. This can be done informally, with the parents agreeing on a payment amount and schedule, or it can be done through a more formal process, such as mediation or legal proceedings.

If the parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own, they may seek help from the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), which is a government agency in the United Kingdom that provides support and assistance with child maintenance issues. The CMS has the power to calculate the amount of child maintenance that should be paid, based on factors such as the parents’ income and the number of children involved.

There are several different types of child maintenance arrangements, depending on the individual circumstances of the parents and the child. These can include:

  • Direct Pay: In this arrangement, the non-custodial parent makes payments directly to the custodial parent.
  • Collect and Pay: In this arrangement, the CMS collects payments from the non-custodial parent and then passes them on to the custodial parent. This option is typically used when the non-custodial parent is unreliable about making payments on time, or if the parents have a difficult relationship and do not want to communicate directly.
  • Non-resident parent paying the parent with care: In this arrangement, the non-custodial parent makes payments directly to the custodial parent, who is responsible for managing the money and using it to cover the child’s expenses.
  • Non-resident parent paying the Child Maintenance Service: In this arrangement, the non-custodial parent makes payments directly to the CMS, which then passes the money on to the custodial parent.

In all cases, the goal of child maintenance is to ensure that the child’s needs are met and that they have the financial support they need to thrive. Child maintenance payments are typically made until the child reaches the age of 18, but in some cases they may continue for longer, depending on the individual circumstances

You need information about the income of the parent who’ll be paying. Use the child maintenance calculator on GOV.UK to get an idea of the amount, whether you’re arranging it yourselves or using the Child Maintenance Service. You can also find out how child maintenance is worked out.


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