Child Maintenance: What is it and How it’s Changing

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One of the hardest things about being a single parent is that one parent over another usually has the majority of the responsibility for the financial responsibility of their child or children. As a single mum or dad, you may be eligible for maintenance payments from your ex-partner if you are the primary parent /the parent the child’s permanent and fixed home is with the majority of the time. If your partner is the parent whom your children reside with for the majority of the time you may need to pay child maintenance.

Child Maintenance is not a payment to either parent for “looking after” children, is it a parent paying towards their child, their clothing, food, school items and everything else. It is a financial commitment that you are bound to as a parent.

There are two ways to work out and organise maintenance payments (which are worked out on income levels). You may arrange these amounts and payments yourself, via a Family Maintenance Arrangement or do so through the Child Maintenance Agency. We cover both of these in more depth in this section, for example, the pros and cons of each, how it works, how to work out a suitable amount, record keeping, collection fees and more.

All new claims for child maintenance will be handled via the Child Maintenance Service (who deal with everything from parental responsibility queries to payments) not the Child Support Agency (CSA). The CSA will end in 2017 and all arrangements currently existing with them will be transferred to the Child Maintenance Service. Don’t worry if you have an arrangement for another child via CSA though as all who use the service will be informed six months before on what they need to do for the switch to go smoothly.

For more information on the Child Maintenance Service (and the CSA) click here.

For more information on Family Maintenance Arrangements find more information here.

It is also important to remember that child maintenance and visitation/custody are two separate things. If you or your ex-partner fall behind on payments this should not affect visitation as it is unfair to the child (and as a parent each has a legal right to see their child unless courts say otherwise) and should be dealt with away from the children.

Money matters when you are a single parent can be difficult to fathom at times which is where we come in with advice and support. Make sure you look up our Piggy Bank section full of useful articles and regularly updated blog posts.

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