About Child Maintenance
Over half a million children in the UK benefit from a ‘family-based’ child maintenance arrangement. These are agreements between both parents about who will provide what for a child.
Child maintenance is financial support that helps towards a child’s everyday living costs when parents separate. It is for children who are either under 16 or under 20 and in full-time education (but not higher than A-level or equivalent). The parent who doesn’t have day-to-day care of the child pays child maintenance to the parent or person who does. Child maintenance can make a real difference to children’s lives as it can help pay for things like clothing, food and other essentials. Effective child maintenance arrangements don’t have to be just about exchanging money, they can also help to keep both parents involved with their children’s lives.
Calculating how much maintenance you need to pay is based on gross income and depends on the number of children you have. You can input your details on the calculator on-line. Calculate Your Child Maintenance to work out how much you might be paying.
Child Maintenance Options has a range of tools to help you make a family-based child maintenance arrangement including:
- a family-based arrangement form to keep a record of what you have agreed,
- a discussion guide with tips and guidance to help you talk to the other parent,
- an online calculator based on the same rules that the Child Maintenance Service uses to work out child maintenance that can give you an idea of the amount that you could expect to pay or receive, and
- inspiration and advice from other separated parents and people the Child Maintenance Service has helped.
Family-based arrangements aren’t enforceable by law. But if the other parent doesn’t keep up with payments you can go to a family mediation provider, the Child Maintenance Service or court to put in place an arrangement that is legally binding.
In family mediation, this can be negotiated alongside other family issues so that you can make your own arrangements and won’t have to pay these fees.
National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family
National Family Mediation (NFM) services charge £25-£100 for a MIAM, depending on geographical locality, which may include the fee for the completed FM1 form. Meetings usually last for 45 minutes – 1 hour. This includes the means assessment to check whether you will be eligible for Legal Aid, determining whether your mediation will be free or not. Mediation sessions which follow the initial MIAM are charged at a sliding scale according to income, but start at around £80 per session, and usually last up to 1½ hours.
If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.
All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.