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Child Maintenance Solicitors

When a couple with children separates, sorting out how the children will be financially supported is one of the most important issues to deal with. Having the right legal support can make this quicker and easier, ensuring your children’s best interests are put first and that conflict is kept to a minimum.

Our family law solicitors have been helping separating couples to deal with all aspects of divorce and separation, including child maintenance agreements, for more than 20 years. With a strong focus on non-confrontational dispute resolution, we are usually able to help couples voluntarily agree arrangements for child maintenance without the need for court action. This makes the process faster and simpler for you, while helping to avoid the process from becoming acrimonious.

We offer a consultation to every client, meaning we can get a clear understanding of your situation and any concerns you have, then explain your options to you in plain English. That means you should come away with complete confidence in how you want to proceed and what needs to happen next.

Contact our expert child maintenance solicitors today

Book your consultation with our family lawyers in London and across the South East now by calling 020 3613 3505 or contact your local Crisp & Co office.

How child maintenance works

Child maintenance is usually paid by the non-resident parent to the parent the children mainly live with. The amount paid can be agreed between the parents voluntarily or it can be decided by a court if required.

A child maintenance agreement can specify details such as:

  • How much the paying parent will contribute (either as a fixed sum or a proportion of their income)
  • When the payment will be made (usually a set day of the week or date in the month)
  • What provision there will be for additional one-off expenses (such as school clothes or trips)

Our solicitors specialising in child maintenance can answer any questions you have about child maintance, and how it works.

Making a family-based arrangement for child maintenance

In most cases it will be much faster and less expensive to agree child maintenance voluntarily and this also makes it easier to avoid any deterioration in the relationship between the parents, which can be triggered by taking the matter to court.

As parents, you are free to arrange all of the details of your child maintenance agreement yourself, although it is usually a good idea to have the support of a trained legal expert to ensure all of the relevant issues are fully considered and correctly accounted for in the agreement you reach.

A privately negotiated child maintenance agreement has the advantage that you can decide between yourselves to vary the maintenance agreement at a later date if required. You also have the option to make the agreement legally binding with a Consent Order if necessary.

If you require legal advice on child maintenance, our expert solicitors at Crisp & Co can offer this.

Using the Child Maintenance Service to arrange child support

If you and your former partner can’t agree on child support arrangements voluntarily, you can apply to the Child Maintenance Service to make an arrangement for you.

The Child Maintenance Service can help with issues including:

  • Working out which parent needs to pay child maintenance
  • Deciding how much maintenance a non-resident parent should pay
  • Arranging how the maintenance will be paid
  • Taking payments from the paying parent and transferring them to the receiving parent
  • Reviewing the payment amounts annually and adjusting if there is a change of circumstances for the parents or their children
  • Finding the paying parent if they have not provided address details
  • Taking action if payment is not made
  • Taking action to prove parentage, including DNA tests if required

You will need to contact Child Maintenance Options before you can apply for help arranging child maintenance. It is also advisable to have the support of an expert in child maintenance law to ensure your rights and the best interests of your children are protected.

Non-confrontational dispute resolution for child maintenance agreements

In many cases where parents wish to agree child maintenance privately, it is beneficial to have some help negotiating the details. Our child maintenance solicitors are experts in non-confrontational dispute resolution, so if you need some help making a maintenance arrangement but would prefer to avoid court action, we have the expertise you need.

We offer two main types of non-confrontational family dispute resolution – mediation and collaborative law. Both can help you reach a voluntary child maintenance agreement, also known as child maintenance contracts, while keeping conflict to a minimum and can be beneficial in different circumstances.

Mediation for child maintenance – The most common way to agree child maintenance, this involves both parents meeting with one of our trained, neutral mediators to discuss the issues involved and agree what maintenance will be paid. This can allow the matter to be resolved relatively quickly and inexpensively. The mediator will help to defuse any potential tension, keeping the process amicable.

Collaborative law for child maintenance – This can be useful where there are more complicated issues to resolve as it involves a four-way meeting between the two parents and their respective solicitors. Again, the goal is to negotiate a child maintenance agreement that works for both parties and their children. The advantage here is that each parent has the support of their own trained legal specialist, meaning they have the benefit of expert legal advice on hand throughout.

As experts in child maintenance law, we are in the perfect position to assist you, whether with mediation or collaborative law.

What to bring to your first meeting with our child maintenance solicitors

When meeting with our child law solicitors to discuss child maintenance agreements or any other aspect of your separation, the following may be useful:

  • Your marriage certificate or certificate of civil partnership
  • Any letters or documents sent to you by your spouse or their solicitors
  • Any documents sent to you by a court
  • Your passport or driving licence & proof of address

Our child maintenance lawyers will ensure that you feel at ease throughout the meeting, explaining everything that you need to know, and answering all of your questions.

Is child maintenance a legal requirement?

Parents are legally required to financially support their children, no matter if they are the resident parent (lives with the child) or the non-resident parent (does not live with the child)

Usually, it is the non-resident parent who must make pre-determined regular payments for the child, referred to as child maintenance. How much the non-resident parent will pay is based on various factors, and can be agreed voluntarily or through the court.

Regardless there are some circumstances where a person is not required to pay child maintenance, including where care is shared 50/50 with the resident parent, or the non-resident parent is currently in full time education without an income. The non-resident parent will also be exempt from paying child maintenance if they are currently serving time in prison.

Do you pay child maintenance if your ex is cohabiting?

Yes, if your ex-partner is cohabiting with a new partner, you will still be responsible for paying child maintenance.

The fact that your ex is living with a new partner is not taken into consideration when determining how your children’s expenses are covered.

What can you do if you think your ex isn’t paying enough child maintenance?

The Child Maintenance Service provides a circumstance based calculation, to determine how much maintenance the non-resident parent should pay.

However, research has indicated that some absent parents are finding loopholes to avoid child maintenance, or to make less of a contribution than they should.

If you are worried that your ex-partner is not contributing the correct amount, there are several things that you can do. You can get in touch with the Child Maintenance Service, and ask them to re-assess their decision.

Alternatively, you might try the process of family mediation, something which our experts at Crisp & Co can help with. For more information about family mediation, please contact us today.

How much child maintenance should I pay?

The Child Maintenance Service calculate how much child maintenance the paying parent should pay, based on their gross income per year, and matters that affect gross income, including any other children they support, and any pension payments.

If you would like to find out how much child maintenance you should pay, you can use the child maintenance calculator on the GOV.UK website. Please note, the calculation is an estimation as opposed to an exact figure.

Why choose Crisp & Co for your child maintenance agreement?

Crisp & Co’s divorce solicitors and family lawyers have more than two decades of experience helping families to resolve complex issues, such as child maintenance agreements. We can ensure you are able to make arrangements for your children as quickly and cost-effectively as possible while minimising the potential for any conflict.

With our strong focus on non-confrontational dispute resolution, including family mediation and collaborative law, we can normally achieve a solution that suits everyone without the need to take the matter to court. Not only can this save you time and money, it can also help you to maintain a positive relationship with your ex, making it easier to parent your children together in future.

Our family law team includes several members of Resolution – a group of family lawyers committed to removing the conflict from family law. This means they are committed to a code of practice and have additional training to ensure they are able to keep the conflict out of family law matters wherever possible.

Crisp & Co has been awarded the Law Society’s Lexcel accreditation recognising the high standards of our practice management and client care. We have also achieved Law Society accreditation in Family Law Advanced, reflecting the particular strength of our expertise in this area.

Book a consultation to discuss your child maintenance agreement in London & South East England

Get in touch with our family lawyers in London and across the South East to book your consultation now by calling 020 3613 3505 or contacting your local Crisp & Co office.