How do I arrange Child Maintenance?

If you have children, both parents are expected to pay towards the cost of raising them until they’re at least 16.

Options for arranging child maintenance

There are four options for arranging with your ex-spouse or partner and how child maintenance will be paid:

  1. Family based arrangement: You and your ex-partner arrange child maintenance between you informally. You can use the Gov.UK online calculator to work out an amount for your children.

You do not need to speak to a solicitor or professional first, although you may need to use a mediator to help you reach an agreed amount. It is best if a standing order is set up so that money is paid to the other parent regularly.

However, it is not legally binding, missed payments will not be collected and broken agreements cannot be enforced.

2. Direct Pay: The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) calculates how much child maintenance should be paid but you and your ex-spouse/partner arrange how it will be paid between you.

3. Collect and Pay: The CMS calculates how much child maintenance should be paid, collects the money from one parent and passes it to the other. There is normally a charge for using the CMS and you can find out more information on the Gov.UK site.

4: Court-ordered arrangement: This is used when the paying parent has a very high level of income. It is often used to pay for school fees or to decide how much maintenance should be paid for stepchildren or disabled children. It can also be used if the parent who is supposed to be paying maintenance lives abroad.

If you would like any further help or advice, please get in touch with a member of our team.