Child Maintenance & Support Solicitors

After a separation, the care of any children from the relationship tends to fall primarily to the parent whom the children live with the most. Child maintenance is a way for the parent who does not see the children as often to help support their upbringing through regular payments, ensuring that they have the best quality of life possible.

The child support paid normally goes towards things such as:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • School fees
  • Travel
  • Extracurricular activities (football etc.)

Typically, child maintenance is paid until the child turns 16 years of age, or 20 if they stay in full-time education. However, if either parent’s financial situation changes, it is possible to alter the terms of the initial agreement.

In family law, child support is not typically arranged as part of a divorce or dissolution. The court will, however, require assurance that both parents have reached an agreement regarding the child’s living arrangements and continued parental involvement.

After a Consent Order has been in place for 12 months, courts can no longer directly order child maintenance payments, as this responsibility has been transferred to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) (formerly known as the Child Services Agency (CSA) – which handles most maintenance cases for children.

Unfortunately, if the CMS has assessed the situation and a parent is still refusing to pay, hiring a lawyer isn’t likely to be very effective. In these circumstances, it is up to the CMS to resolve the situation, normally through a child maintenance court order.

How can we help?

Making arrangements for children with a former partner can be difficult, particularly if the separation was contentious. Our child maintenance and support solicitors at Heringtons specialise in children’s law and have years of experience in this field. We also understand that even in an amicable separation, a divorce of dissolution can be stressful for the children. This is why it is important to not only achieve a child maintenance agreement but also to minimise any negative impact that future disputes might have on the child’s well-being.

Our main objective is to facilitate a smooth and uncomplicated process; our team consists of mediation specialists and qualified collaborative lawyers who will be able to aid you in reaching a child maintenance agreement. Our skilled child support solicitors are well-versed in multiple methods of negotiation and will do their utmost to help you avoid going to court, saving you stress, time and money. We will also be at hand to provide legal advice on child maintenance and support you through this stressful time.

If an amicable agreement isn’t possible, we will be ready and willing to provide guidance on how to apply to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). After this, it will be up to the CMS to work out how much should be paid as maintenance per month.

Contact our child maintenance solicitors

Our team of expert child support solicitors have years of experience in this area. If you’d like to speak to one of them, please contact us on 0800 0014543 or use the enquiry form on the right of this page.

What to do if a father refuses to pay child maintenance?

If a parent in the UK refuses to pay child maintenance, there are several options available to you that can be taken to enforce the payments, depending on your specific circumstances:

  • Contact the Child Maintenance Service (CMS): The CMS is a government agency that can help to arrange child maintenance payments. They can calculate the amount of child maintenance that the non-resident parent is required to pay and will likely take enforcement action if the payments are not made.
  • Negotiate with the parent: If possible, try to negotiate with the parent in an amicable fashion to come to an agreement about the child maintenance payments. One of our family solicitors can provide advice and support throughout this process.
  • Apply to the court: If negotiations fail, a parent can apply to the court for a child maintenance order. The court can order the non-resident parent to pay child maintenance and can enforce the payments if necessary.
  • Take enforcement action: If the parent still refuses to pay, enforcement action can be taken, for example taking money from their wages or benefits or seizing their assets. It's important to note that child maintenance payments are legally required and are in the best interests of the child. One of our child support solicitors will be able to provide guidance on the available options and can help to ensure that the child receives the financial support that they are entitled to.

How much should a father pay for maintenance?

Depending on whom the children live with full time, the other parent will be expected to pay maintenance. However, determining the exact amount of child maintenance to be paid can be difficult as various factors have to be considered, such as income, assets, savings, the child’s age, any special needs requirements, and pension contributions.

To determine a specific amount, you can try to come to an amicable agreement with your ex-partner through a calm and mutual discussion, to decide on an amount that works for both parties. We recommend having one of our skilled child maintenance solicitors help to mediate these discussions, or you could rely on the Child Maintenance Service to handle the matter on your behalf.

How many nights affect child maintenance?

One of the most contentious debates when it comes to child maintenance is how many nights (referring to overnight care given to a child) the non-residential parent must have in order to pay less child maintenance. Unfortunately, there have been cases where parents have tried to exploit this as a loophole in order to pay less child support fees towards their children. This is a complex subject, and we seriously recommend seeking legal counsel if this is something affecting you.

In the UK, the number of nights that a non-residential parent spends with their child (providing overnight care) can affect the amount of child maintenance payments that they are required to make. This is because child maintenance calculations consider the number of nights that the non-resident parent spends with their child.

If a non-resident parent provides overnight care 52 times or more per year, this is then considered “shared care” and can reduce the amount of child maintenance that the non-resident parent is required to pay.

It is important to note that even if the non-resident parent spends 52 nights or more with the child, they might still be required to pay some amount of child maintenance.

It is essential that you are aware of this when deciding on living arrangements for your children, which is why we strongly recommend working with one of our child support lawyers to make sure that you’re receiving the correct amount that you require, and that there is no exploitation happening.

Contact our child maintenance solicitors

Our team of expert child support solicitors have years of experience in this area. If you’d like to speak to one of them, please contact us on 0800 0014543 or use the enquiry form on the right of this page.

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