Child maintenance arises whether parents have been married, have never been married and even if they have never lived together at all. The obligation arises by virtue of being the natural parent of the child or children. The obligation often arises when the parents physically separate as that is the point where one parent no longer lives in the same household as their child or children.
Child maintenance is usually calculated as a weekly or monthly amount which is paid by the parent who does not live with the child or children to the parent who has the care of the children. This is that parent's contribution towards the care and costs of bringing up a child or children who are not living in their household.
The question of child maintenance can appear a simple matter but in fact it is a complex area of law. We are happy to advise on any and all aspect of the provision of Child Maintenance.
CHILD MAINTENANCE AND THE CMS
Child maintenance is legally governed by an organisation called the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
It is possible to agree the sum to be paid by one parent for the care of the child or children who do not live with them. Such agreement is often based upon the standard legal CMS formula which dictates the amount which should be paid.
If there is no agreement about the maintenance, either as to the amount to be paid or as to whether it should be paid at all, then this is a matter which would need to be resolved by way of an application to the CMS. The CMS will then determine whether the maintenance is payable and the sum which is to be paid. Either parent can apply to the CMS to make an assessment.
We can advise you upon the amount which the CMS would award the maintenance to be paid. Knowledge of the amount payable on calculation using the CMS formula can assist you in reaching agreement about the Child Maintenance which should be paid.
DISPUTES AS TO THE MAINTENANCE
The process of applying to the CMS is relatively straight forward. If, however, you are unhappy with the CMS maintenance assessment then we can help. We will consider with you routes to apply to vary the assessment ( to ask for the CMS to take additional matters into account) or to apply to appeal against the decisions made by the CMS.
CHILD MAINTENANCE AND THE COURTS
The family courts can still become involved in dealing with certain aspects of child maintenance. This includes:-
- An order for maintenance to cover the costs of private school fees
- An order for maintenance for a child at university
- An order for maintenance for a child or children where a parent is not in the UK
- An order for "top up maintenance" where the parent is wealthy
- An order for maintenance to cover expenses for a disabled child.
- An agreed maintenance order for a child, subject to certain conditions, in divorce or dissolution proceedings
These applications can be made by both married and unmarried couples. These applicaitons are very specialist and our family law team have the knowledge and expertise to advise and represent you.
If you need further individual advice please call us on 0845 482 0641 and we can discuss your problems in more detail