Child maintenance is not optional – non-resident parents must pay

19th January 2015 by

Firstly, let’s be clear, paying for the upkeep of your children is not optional – under the Child Support Act 1995 each parent of a child (biological or adoptive) is responsible for maintaining the child financially even if they do not live with the child or do not spend any time with them. The absent parent, in most cases the father, will be responsible for paying maintenance to the parent who looks after the children on a day-to-day basis.

The family law courts will not become involved in calculating financial child support for divorcing couples. If parents can’t agree what suitable maintenance payments should be they should apply to the Child Support Agency to establish amounts and a payment schedule

However, if parents of children can agree a family-based arrangement for child maintenance, this should be included on form D8A, the Statement of Arrangements for Children and this will be reviewed by the family court as part of the divorce application.

Making the best family-based arrangement for child maintenance

Most absent fathers are happy to fulfil their financial responsibilities and family lawyers generally agree that making family-based arrangements is by far the best way to arrange child maintenance in the UK.

However, for some couples it can be a very difficult subject to broach and it may be prudent to speak to a divorce solicitor about child maintenance issues, especially where there is a dispute. It may be possible to arrange a mediation session in which a trained mediator will be able to help the parties agree the best outcome for everyone.

Family-based arrangements are flexible and private. Once a court has approved the arrangement as part of the divorce application the absent parent will be responsible for keeping to the schedule or, when circumstances change, to agree any changes with the parent with residence (living with the children).

Some parents may be daunted by the sums involved in calculating child maintenance – how much is enough? – and may even be fearful of igniting a dispute about this very question, but there are a number of tools available to help work out child support and a family lawyer will also be able to help ensure a parent’s rights are maintained in any negotiations.

How Healys’ family lawyers in Brighton and London can help

The family law teams at Healys LLP in Brighton and London are experienced in successfully negotiating parental responsibility agreements, child residence agreements and child contact agreements, as well agreements for child maintenance.

Over our many years acting as specialist family solicitors and lawyers to divorcing couples and unmarried parents undergoing relationship breakdown we have learned that each client’s situation is different. Healys can help by listening sensitively to your situation and giving you straightforward legal advice so you can weigh up what options will work best for you.

When parents of children are amicable we can help you keep negotiations in your best interests, and when there are disagreements we will be there to help fight your corner.

For more information on the service we provide, please contact Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or email for Brighton. For London please contact Jane Sanders on 020 7822 4107 or email