Child maintenance is the financial support provided by one parent to another to cover the living expenses of any children.
It is awarded for children under 16, those under 20 who are in full-time education (but not higher than A Levels), and those under 20 where the parent receives child benefit.
You can agree maintenance payments between yourselves or apply to the Child Maintenance Service. This is a statutory service that can calculate the amount you should be paid and can arrange to collect the payments on your behalf. Sliding scales are used to work out how much money has to be earned before child maintenance must be paid and the amount to be paid for each child.
The Child Maintenance Service takes into account the paying parent’s income and whether they are supporting other children. For example, if your former spouse earns £20,000 a year and this is the only child they support, you might receive around £50 a week. Someone earning £40,000 a year and paying child support for two children might pay you a total of around £130 a week.
The level of maintenance payment may be reduced if the child is spending time with each parent on a regular basis.
You may be able to agree higher payments if you negotiate them between yourselves with the support of a lawyer. This can be particularly helpful if your former spouse is a high-earner, or you want help with additional costs such as private school fees.