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 free 1-hour initial 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.
Book your free initial 1 hour consultation with our family lawyers in London and across the South East now by calling 020 3281 7885 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)
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 agreement at a later date if required. You also have the option to make the agreement legally binding with a Consent Order if necessary.
Using the Child Maintenance Service to arrange child support
If you and your former partner can’t agree arrangements for child maintenance 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 if there is a change 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 an 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 agreement 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 and 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.
What to bring to your first meeting with our maintenance agreements 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
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 free 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 free 1-hour consultation now by calling 020 3281 7885 or contacting your local Crisp & Co office.
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